Labour leaders meet councillors amid resignations over 'pro-Israel' stance
Top officials from the UK Labour Party have held a meeting with councillors following several abrupt resignations from the party due to its leader Keir Starmer’s stance on the ongoing attacks of Israel on Gaza.
Sue Gray, Starmer's chief of staff, and David Lammy, shadow foreign secretary, met with council leaders due to concerns over pending resignations, ITV News reported late on Monday.
A Labour Party affiliate confirmed the meeting had been held alongside the elected representatives, according to The Guardian.
The meeting was marked by "emotion and strong views" but denied that it became "heated", a source told the Guardian.
"The meeting was one of a series with elected representatives, as you would imagine from a serious grown-up government-in-waiting on such a difficult and sensitive issue," the report said.
“Of course, there was emotion and strong views but that is what you would expect. It was acknowledged that councillors are on the front line dealing with some difficult circumstances.
“Support was offered, and our position was made clear.”
The meeting came after Amna Abdullatif, the first Arab Muslim woman elected to the Manchester city council, announced her departure from the Labour Party.
In her resignation statement, Abdullatif said that she had been a "proud member of the Labour Party for the last decade".
However, she said she was opposed to the views of Keir Starmer and "a number of the senior front bench" who were "endorsing a war crime" after advocating for "Israel having the right to withhold fuel, water, food and electricity" from over two million people in Gaza.
"I’m appalled by the lack of humanity being shown to Palestinians by the Party I have been a member of for the past 10 years," Abdullatif said.
Statement of resignation from the Labour Party, Cllr Amna Abdullatif, Manchester City Council. pic.twitter.com/8Wap2EFUjI— Cllr Amna Abdullatif (@Amna4A) October 16, 2023
On October 11, Starmer argued that Israel 'has the right' to withhold power and water from Gaza during an interview with LBC News.
Starmer added, “Israel has the right to do everything it can to get those hostages back safe and sound. Hamas bears responsibility.”
Oxford-based Labour councillors, Shaista Aziz and Dr Amar Latif have also since quit the party, while Lubaba Khalid, a Young Labour BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) officer similarly announced her resignation in a post on X.
"As a Palestinian, with direct family in Gaza, I am absolutely appalled by the comments made to LBC by the leader of the Labour party and my local MP Keir Starmer," she wrote.
"Collective punishment is a war crime under international law," she added.