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Keir Starmer dumps Labour Party policy to recognise Palestinian statehood

The Labour leader has said that the party will now only recognise Palestine as a state as part of a two-state solution
British opposition Labour Party Leader Keir Starmer delivers a speech in Bristol, south west Britain, January 4, 2024 (REUTERS/Toby Melville)
Labour Party leader Keir Starmer delivers a speech in Bristol, south-west England, 4 January 2024 (Reuters/Toby Melville)

Keir Starmer has officially dropped the Labour Party's promise to recognise Palestine as a state unilaterally, and will now only do so as a result of a two-state solution with Israel.

The Labour leader told the Jewish Chronicle that the party was "committed to the two-state solution" and that "recognition has to be part of a process, and an appropriate part of the process".

The U-turn comes after Labour's National Executive Committee passed policy in October stating that they would “work alongside international partners to recognise the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel, as part of efforts to contribute to securing a negotiated two-state solution”.

Wayne David, the Labour Party's shadow Middle East minister, said the move was a departure from "T-shirt politics".

"It's not about the Labour government going, 'right we recognise Palestine’, big deal!" David said, adding that the party's previous position would have “counted for very little apart from antagonising some people”.

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Since the Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip began on 7 October, Labour Party branches have been banned from discussing the conflict and elected representatives "strongly advised" not to attend pro-Palestine demonstrations, according to eight Labour councillors in Oxford.

The party also banned the Palestine Solidarity Campaign from describing Israel as an "apartheid state" in its literature for the last party conference.

Dozens of the party's elected councillors have quit the party in protest over the refusal of the leadership to support a ceasefire. Some 56 Labour MPs broke with the leadership to support a ceasefire in a House of Commons vote in November.

After repeatedly refusing to call for a permanent ceasefire, Starmer recognised the need for a "sustainable ceasefire" in December.

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