Labour must not row back on recognising Palestine


By Katie Neame

Originally published by Labour List, November 9, 2023

A former Labour shadow minister has urged the party not to further row back on past commitments on recognising Palestine when in government, criticising its decision not to promise immediate recognition of statehood.

Speaking exclusively to LabourList, Richard Burden, the former Labour MP for Birmingham Northfield, called on Labour to reinstate its previous policy of immediately recognising the state of Palestine, as the party committed to under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

Burden, also vice chair of Labour Friends of Palestine and the Middle East, expressed concern about the language used by Labour’s frontbench about Palestinian statehood, pointing to a recent piece in The Observer by David Lammy.

But a Labour spokesperson told LabourList the party was committed to recognition alongside international partners as part of efforts to secure a two-state solution, and one insider dubbed the alternative Corbyn-era stance of immediate, unilateral recognition an “unrealistic gesture” that would hinder peace efforts.

The Shadow Foreign Secretary said in the piece last weekend he had promised during a visit to Palestine last year that, if Labour wins power, the party “will strive to recognise Palestine as a sovereign state, as part of efforts to contribute to securing a negotiated two-state solution.”

Burden highlighted Lammy’s use of the word “strive”, suggesting he feared it could signal a less strong commitment.

Burden told LabourList: “I really don’t know why the word [strive] was used if there is no change in policy.” He argued that it is important for the frontbench “to clarify that the commitment is still to action, not only efforts in support of an aspiration.”

Read the full article here.

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Richard Burden

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I was Labour Member of Parliament for Birmingham Northfield between 1992 and 2019 and a former Shadow Transport Minister. I now chair Healthwatch in Birmingham and Solihull, and the West Midlands Board of Remembering Srebrenica. I also work as a public affairs consultant. I am an effective community advocate and stakeholder alliance builder with a passion for human rights. I am a trustee of the Balfour Project charity and of Citizens Advice Birmingham, and a former Chair of Medical Aid for Palestinians.

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