Owen Jones quits Labour Party over support for Israel's 'war crimes' in Gaza

Owen Jones quits Labour Party over support for Israel's 'war crimes' in Gaza
The left-wing activist says he is quitting the UK party and is supporting Green or independent candidates at the next election.
2 min read
21 March, 2024
Owen Jones is leaving the party after 24 years, with one reason being Sir Keir Starmer's comments on the current war on Gaza [GETTY]

British columnist and left-wing activist Owen Jones said on Thursday he is cancelling his UK Labour Party membership due to the party's stance on Israel's war on Gaza.

Jones has been a member of the party for 24 years, but in an open letter published in The Guardian, the columnist announced he would be leaving, underlining party leader Keir Starmer's pro-Israel stance.

"We all have political red lines: mine is supporting what would amount to war crimes against innocent civilians, toddlers and newborn babies among them, then gaslighting the public over doing so," Jones wrote, referring to Starmer declaring that Israel' had a "right" to cut off energy and water to Palestinian civilians.

The columnist also mentioned Kate Osamor, a Black female MP who was suspended for describing the assault on Gaza as genocide on the day of the ICJ case.

Jones is not the first to leave the party over Israel's latest military assault on Gaza, which has so far killed more than 31,000 and injured over 74,000 Palestinians.

Eight shadow ministers and two parliamentary secretaries quit the party in November last year. This came after 56 MPs backed the SNP's motion calling for a ceasefire, defying Starmer's position calling for longer "humanitarian pauses".

Starmer has taken the same approach as UK Prime Minster Rish Sunak by defending Israel's war on Gaza.

Starmer said a ceasefire at that stage would leave Hamas with the infrastructure and capability to carry out the sort of attack it launched on 7 October and that an immediate humanitarian pause was the "only credible approach".

At the same time, Imran Hussain resigned from the Labour shadow cabinet over Starmer's refusal to call for a ceasefire in Gaza.

Starmer also sparked anger amongst the party after telling the Jewish Community Centre London (JW3) that Labour would work toward a two-state solution in conjunction with other states. This went against the policy established under then-leader Corbyn when both the 2017 and 2019 election manifestos pledged to recognise Palestine if Labour won power immediately.

Support for the party from British Muslims has also fallen since the 2019 general election.