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  • Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) urges the Labour Party to confront the reality of Israel’s practice of the crime of apartheid rather than avoid naming it
  • The call follows the party’s decision to remove any reference to the word ‘apartheid’ from Labour’s listing of PSC’s annual stall and fringe meeting in the conference brochures
  • Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Israeli NGO B’Tselem have all produced reports that affirm Israel is practising the crime of apartheid
  • Most recently the former head of Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, Tamir Pardo, also said Israel’s policies amounted to apartheid

PSC have today (4/10/23) called on the Labour Party to confront the reality of Israel’s practice of the crime of apartheid rather than avoid using the term. The move follows the decision by Labour Party administrators not to allow PSC to use the word apartheid to describe their annual conference stall or fringe meeting in Labour printed or online brochures. When asked for a justification of its decision, the leader Keir Starmer’s office said Labour would not publish content that “..we believe to be detrimental to the party”.

PSC will have a stall each day at the Labour conference and on Tuesday October 10th will host a fringe meeting entitled “Justice for Palestine: End Apartheid” – though this title will not appear in Labour Party listings.

The keynote speaker will be Saleh Hijazi, Apartheid Free policy coordinator at the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) National committee. Saleh Hijazi was also co-author of the seminal Amnesty International report, one of several in recent years by leading human rights agencies, confirming the reality Palestinians have attested to for years – that Israel is practising apartheid. This is defined under the Rome Statute 1998 as “an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime” – and is a crime against humanity.

Israel has this year elected the most extreme far-right Government in its history, with a minister who is a self-proclaimed proud fascist. It has made overt its commitment to hugely expand illegal settlements in the West Bank, with policies which legal analysts are describing as a clear plan to annex the illegally occupied Palestinian territories.

Instead of responding to these developments in adherence to international law and with concern for human rights, which would demand measures to hold Israel to account for its serial violations, the Labour leadership is seeking to avoid engaging with the reality lived by Palestinians for decades, and its recent National Policy Forum document watered down a clear commitment to recognise a Palestinian state if elected.

Ben Jamal, Director of PSC, said,

“You cannot tackle an injustice unless you are prepared to name it. As B’Tselem, Israel’s leading human rights monitoring body, said in their report affirming Israel’s practice of apartheid, “As painful as it may be to look reality in the eye, it is more painful to live under a boot.”

A Labour Government should be fully  committed to the upholding of international law and the principle that respect for human rights should be central to all relations with foreign states, including trade relations. Such a commitment would mean holding Israel to account for its practice of what amounts to a crime against humanity.

PSC’s fringe meeting next week, entitled “Justice for Palestine: End Apartheid”, will go ahead regardless  of how it is advertised in Labour’s conference brochure. We look forward to welcoming all Labour members and members of PSC’s nationally affiliated Trade Unions, who hold firm to Martin Luther King’s injunction that “an injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Mick Whelan, General Secretary of ASLEF, joint chair of TULO & member of Labour’s NEC, who will be speaking at the PSC fringe meeting, said:

“You cannot tackle an injustice unless you are prepared to name it. Solidarity with Palestinians means addressing the reality of the system of apartheid under which they are forced to live.”

Yasmine Ahmed, UK director of Human Rights Watch, said:

“Human Rights Watch’s findings were clear: Israel is committing the crime of apartheid. Unless and until governments and political parties acknowledge the systematic and severe discrimination that Palestinians face, then claims of promoting peace will ring hollow. There can never be peace without human rights.”