UK Labour Party votes to freeze arms sales to Israel

UK Labour Party votes to freeze arms sales to Israel
As the proposal was put forward, hundreds of delegates stood and waved Palestinian flags inside the conference hall in Liverpool, chanting 'Free Palestine!'
2 min read
25 September, 2018
The Labour Party conference hall turned into a sea of Palestinian flags [Craig Jevon Smith]
The British Labour Party has decided to support a freeze on arms sales to Israel, a first in the country's history.

As the proposal was put forward, hundreds of pro-Palestinian Labour delegates stood and waved their flags inside the conference hall in Liverpool, chanting "Free Palestine!" and turning the hall into a sea of Palestinian flags.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) had handed out more than a thousand flags to delegates.

"We have witnessed extraordinary scenes of solidarity today and the Labour Party has done the right thing by recognising the longstanding injustice of Israel's violation of Palestinian rights," said PSC chair High Lanning.

"This is an important step forward in building solidarity with Palestinians within Labour and we hope the leadership will listen to the will of the party on this issue."

Campaign director Ben Jamal agreed.

"Labour members want to show real solidarity with Palestinians," he said. "Given Israel's continuing use of live fire to kill unarmed Palestinian demonstrators, it is no surprise that there's clear support for an immediate freeze of arms sales to Israel."

The motion - moved by Harlow Constituency Labour Party (CLP) and seconded by Wolverhampton South West CLP - is the first on Palestine to be heard at the party's conference in many years.

Palestine was put forward as the fourth-most important issue by CLPs in the priorities ballot, after housing, the schools system and "justice for the Windrush generation" - and above Brexit, the NHS, climate change and social care.

The motion comes amid ongoing protests along Gaza's border with Israel dubbed the Great Return Marches.

Read more: Anti-Semitism and UK Labour: What now for Palestine solidarity?

Despite the largely peaceful nature of the protests, Israeli snipers have killed more than 170 Palestinians since they began on 30 March, with more than 17,500 injured.

More than 68 Palestinians injured by Israeli forces have required amputations of either lower or upper limbs since the protests began.

Palestinians have been calling to return to the homes their families were forced from in 1948, during the military campaign surrounding the creation of Israel.

They are also calling for an end to the decade-long Israel-Egypt blockade that the UN says will make Gaza "unlivable" by 2020. 

Tuesday's motion at the Labour Party conference called for an "independent international investigation into Israel's use of force against Palestinian demonstrators", an "immediate and unconditional end to the illegal blockade and closure of Gaza" and "a freeze of UK government arms sales to Israel".

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