Liberal Democrat's Layla Moran calls for sanctions on 'insidious' Israeli settler movement

Liberal Democrat's Layla Moran calls for sanctions on 'insidious' Israeli settler movement
The UK's 'third party' the Liberal Democrats have called for expanded sanctions on all those who enabled the Israeli settlement programme.
3 min read
19 March, 2024
Layla Moran used her conference speech to call for sanctions on Israeli settler leaders [Getty]

The Liberal Democrats' Layla Moran called for expanded sanctions on members of the Israeli settler movement at the party conference this weekend, including far-right members of the Israeli government.

The Palestinian-British MP slammed the "insidious" settlement movement which has embarked on a campaign of terror against Palestinian villages in the occupied West Bank since 7 October.

Moran, the Lib Dem's spokesperson for foreign affairs and international development, announced the party would go beyond calling for sanctions on Israeli extremist settler leaders, such as National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, to include all those enabling the extremists.

"Today, we can announce that we are calling for the sanctions to apply not just to them, but anyone who enables the insidious settler movement, the lawyers, the accountants, the businesses, if they support illegal activity, they shouldn't be allowed in the UK," Moran told the conference.

"And if their money is flowing through our economy, we should go after it, no longer can acting with impunity go without consequence. When we say we believe in international law we mean it."

The Liberal Democrats have already called for banning the import of goods from settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory and for sanctions on the two extremist ministers.

The liberal party also broke with the two main parties in the UK, Labour and the Conservatives, supported an investigation by the International Criminal Court into allegations of genocide in Gaza, and backed calls for an immediate ceasefire.

Gaza has become a divisive issue in UK politics, with the Conservatives widely condemned for their almost unmitigated support for Israel's war on Gaza, which has so far killed around 32,000 people, while the Labour Party has been torn apart by differences on the issue.

Moran's criticism of Israel's war on Gaza was met with loud applause from the conference room, underlining a more unified stance on the issue among Liberal Democrats.

"Our steadfast commitment to international law has been our anchor something our opponents have been sorely lacking. What an indictment of our politics, that on the gravest of issues our parliament has too often been reduced to jeering and chaos. Those politicians lost sight of what really mattered, we as a party, never have," Moran said.

As the UK's first British-Palestinian MP, Moran's route to parliament is threaded in the narrative of the Palestine-Israel conflict. She mentioned the Palestinian Nakba ("catastrophe") which saw her family scattered across the occupied Palestinian territory and the world, dismantling a deeply cohesive society between Palestinian Christians, Muslims, and Jews. 

"In 1948, everything changed. For my family, that was the year were forced into a different path and just like so many other Palestinians... the following decades were ones of displacement, fear, and uncertainty, but also resilience and grit," the MP said.

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"And I am so grateful to my grandparents and my great-grandparents for the path they forged our family, starting again with almost no possessions, to build a life that led to me being in this place at this time."

Moran has also been personally affected by the Gaza war with family members seeking refuge along with hundreds of Palestinian Christians in the besieged Holy Family Church in Gaza City, where conditions are said to be intolerable.

She noted this was the first time the Liberal Democrats had met since Hamas's 7 October attacks, which killed an estimated 1,200 Israelis, and the start of the war on Gaza, with almost the entire enclave destroyed.

At this critical juncture point, Moran said the international community must seize the opportunity and move toward a path of peace via a two-state solution.

"We cannot squander this horrendous moment, because in it there is an opportunity in history... either we let disaster happen over and over and over again, or we choose a different path one that says we have had enough," the MP said.