Labour Friends of Israel remove MP supporter list from website

  • Post last modified:May 31, 2024
  • Reading time:5 mins read

Lobby group Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) has removed its list of ‘parliamentary supporters’ from its website ahead of the general election.

With the International Court of Justice (ICJ) finding it ‘plausible’ Israel is committing genocide and the International Criminal Court (ICC) chief prosecutor seeking an arrest warrant for Benjamin Netanyahu, LFI supporting MPs can be electorally damaging for the Labour Party.

Labour Friends of Israel

17 of Keir Starmer’s 31 shadow cabinet members are listed as LFI parliamentary supporters on the deleted page. That includes Starmer himself, shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves who is a vice-chair and shadow foreign secretary David Lammy. Labour’s national campaign coordinator Pat McFadden is also listed as a vice-chair.

Reeves told an LFI vigil after the 7 October Hamas attack:

I also know that many of you have concerns closer to home, about the antisemitism, the anti-Zionism and the anti-Israeli feeling that is allowed to flourish in some communities in Britain.

And so we stand alongside you here at home as well and will ensure that the police do everything within their powers to hold responsible anybody who behaves in that way here at home.

She was later labeled “unhinged” on social media as she lumped in critics of Israel with antisemitism and appeared to call for police action for political opinion.

LFI has close ties to the Israeli embassy. Undercover filming from Al Jazeera showed an LFI officer admitting:

We do work really really closely together. It’s just publicly we just try to keep the LFI as a separate identity to the embassy.

Al Jazeera reporting also revealed in 2016 that, through LFI, the Israeli government issued a £1m bounty for Labour insiders to sabotage Jeremy Corbyn. The former Labour leader is a longstanding supporter of Palestinian rights.

Israel lobbyist funding Starmer’s Labour

But now with Starmer as leader, Israel doesn’t need to undermine the party leadership. Pro-Israel lobbyists including LFI have funded two fifths of Starmer’s shadow cabinet, as well as the Labour leader himself.

Pro-Israel businessperson Gary Lubner has donated £4.5m to Starmer’s Labour. He called Corbyn’s former leadership “cancer”.

LFI also organises trips to Israel for Labour MPs. In July 2022, shadow foreign secretary Lammy visited Israel with LFI.

In January 2024, as South Africa accused Israel of genocide at the ICJ, Labour MPs Christian Wakeford, Margaret Hodge and peer Ruth Anderson visited Israel.

They posed for a photo with Israeli president Isaac Herzog who South Africa then named in the genocide case. Following the Oct 7 Hamas attack, Herzog said:

It’s an entire nation out there that is responsible. This rhetoric about civilians not aware, not involved, it’s absolutely not true.

During the election campaign, Starmer has repeatedly dodged the question of whether he would enforce an arrest warrant against Netanyahu and Israeli defence minister Yoav Gallant, which the ICC has sought.

UK MPs should change laws that protect allied war criminals from arrest if they enter the UK.

But Starmer’s refusal to uphold international law suggests he does not take Israeli war crimes seriously. And so does the party’s continued partnership with LFI.

Featured image via Associated Press – YouTube and Sky News – YouTube

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