United Kingdom

Labour's Israel row on eve of damning antisemitism report

Sir Keir Starmer is embroiled in a damaging row over anti-Israeli remarks just days before an official report is expected to condemn how Labour under Jeremy Corbyn mishandled antisemitism in the party.

Sources say the Labour leader is infuriated with Stephen Kinnock, one of his frontbench foreign affairs team, for using a Commons debate on Palestine and the West Bank to accuse Israel of behaviour 'tantamount to profiting from the proceeds of crime'.

Labour did not deny reports yesterday that Mr Kinnock, son of ex-party leader Neil Kinnock, had now been reprimanded for remarks which also included calling on the UK to 'ban all products that originate from Israeli settlements in the occupied territories'.

Sources say Sir Keir Starmer is infuriated with Stephen Kinnock (right), one of his frontbench foreign affairs team, for using a Commons debate on Palestine and the West Bank to accuse Israel of behaviour 'tantamount to profiting from the proceeds of crime'

The row is deeply embarrassing for Sir Keir on the eve of the publication of a report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission into how the party dealt with antisemitism under his predecessor.

When he took office in April, Sir Keir won plaudits from the Jewish community for vowing that he would 'tear out this poison [of antisemitism] by its roots'.

Under Mr Corbyn, Jewish groups accused the party of repeatedly singling out Israel for criticism while failing to condemn the behaviour of China or Iran.

Under Jeremy Corbyn, Jewish groups accused the party of repeatedly singling out Israel for criticism while failing to condemn the behaviour of China or Iran

Sources claim that at the meeting, Ms Nandy – Mr Kinnock's immediate boss – confirmed to the Jewish leaders he had been given 'a dressing down' for his tone in a Commons debate on September 24.

They said Ms Nandy confirmed there was anger at the very top of the party over his suggestion Labour had hardened its policy towards Israel and the settlements.

One said: 'Lisa made no secret of the fact she and the leader were angry with Kinnock – especially after all the work that has been done to try to restore Labour's relationship with the Jewish community.

'At the meeting, there was agreement there is nothing wrong with criticising the Israeli government for some of its actions – but only if this is proportionate with criticism of other countries. 

Mr Kinnock has a long record of singling out Israel with over the top criticism.'

Allies of Mr Kinnock, former chairman of the British-Palestine all-party parliamentary group, stressed last night he had secured the Commons debate long before he was appointed to Sir Keir's front bench. 

They also said he had made clear to fellow MPs that his anger at the treatment of people in the Occupied Territories was not 'about being pro-Israel or pro-Palestine –this is about striving for peace, justice and security for all'.

The EHRC report is expected to offer a damning assessment of Labour's disciplinary processes, including its handling of high-profile cases including former London Mayor Ken Livingstone and remarks he made in 2016 about Adolf Hitler and Zionism. 

Labour declined to comment last night.

The EHRC report is expected to offer a damning assessment of Labour's disciplinary processes, including its handling of high-profile cases including former London Mayor Ken Livingstone (above) and remarks he made in 2016 about Adolf Hitler and Zionism

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