UK Labour leader Starmer condemns Hamas attack on Israel
The Labour leader told the packed auditorium in Liverpool that his party, firm favourites to take power in the UK next year, was committed to a two-state solution and an independent Palestinian state, but failed to mention Israel’s ongoing bombing of Gaza.
It comes after the killing of at least 900 Israelis by Hamas on Saturday, with a ferocious aerial campaign and siege unleashed on the two million citizens of Gaza killing 700 Palestinians so far.
"Conference, I am shocked and appalled by the events in Israel and utterly condemn the senseless murder of men, women and children, including British citizens, in cold blood by the terrorists of Hamas," he said.
"This party believes in the two-state solution, a Palestinian state alongside a safe and secure Israel but this action by Hamas does nothing for Palestinians and Israel always has the right to defend their people."
The Labour leader’s speech comes after after thousands of members were expelled from the party for antisemitism.
Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was criticised earlier this week for failing to explicitly condemn the killings by Hamas.
"I don’t support any attacks therefore I criticise them all," he said.
Corbyn called for an "immediate ceasefire and urgent de-escalation" saying an end to Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza was the only way to bring about a lasting peace.
He was suspended from the party in 2020 following his response to a report on antisemitism in Labour.
Although he was later readmitted as a Labour member he still does not have the party whip and sits as an independent MP.
Starmer said in his conference speech that since taking over the party in 2020 he has "ripped antisemitism from its roots" in what was likely a swipe at the old order in Labour.
Many current and former Labour members have rebuked these accusations saying criticism of Israel does not equate to antisemitism.
It is likely the last conference before the next UK general election with Labour leading opinion polls by around 20 percent and likely to form the next government.
Starmer set out his vision for a future Labour government promising to build 1.5 million new homes, develop infrastructure and be the party of opportunity.