Labour-Israel bondis‘strong andrunsdeep’
LABOUR’S SHADOW Foreign Secretary has urged the party to combat delegitimisation of Israel, but avoided spelling out opposition to boycotts of the country.
HilaryBenntoldsupportersof Labour Friends of Israel that the bonds between his party and the country were “strong and run deep”.
A number of senior party members spoke at the Westminster lunch on Tuesday, but none mentioned the name of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who did not attend.
Mr Benn did not refer to Mr Corbyn’s anti-Israel activism, but told the audience that the party was committed to supporting the country.
“Our future relations must be built on co-operation and engagement, not isolation of Israel. We must take on those who seek to delegitimise the state of Israel,” he said.
The country had become, Mr Benn said, “an economic giant, a high-tech centre, second only to the United States. A land of innovation and entrepreneurship, venture capital and graduates, private and public enterprise.”
It was essential to work towards a peace process for Israelis and Palestinians, and a two-state solution. “There should be an urgency about the search for peace rather than the shrugging of a shoulder,” Mr Benn said.
The “spirit and leadership” of Yitzhak Rabin were needed “now more than ever”, he added.
Mr Benn said he understood some Israel supporters had “grave reservations” about the nuclear deal with Iran, but it was, he said, “the right thing to do. We must, of course, hold Iran to the undertakings it has made.”
LFI chair Joan Ryan MP opened the lunch, which was attended by Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and communal leaders. Shadow cabinet members Andy Burnham, Luciana Berger, and Michael Dugher were among the audience, as were former front-benchers Yvette Cooper, Tessa Jowell, and Jim Murphy.