End occupation – endorse Palestinian state

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Palestinians outside the Israeli Embassy in London demanding the release of all political prisoners held in Israeli jails
Palestinians outside the Israeli Embassy in London demanding the release of all political prisoners held in Israeli jails

‘THIS YEAR marks 100 years since the Balfour Declaration when a British Foreign Secretary promised the land of Palestine to the Jewish people, my people,’ Labour activist Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, who campaigns in Chingford and Woodford Green constituency, told the Labour Party conference yesterday.

She said: ‘I am here today because I want to welcome the insertion into the NPF (National Policy Forum) annual report section on the Middle East of the key paragraphs of our now ground breaking manifesto which referred to Israel’s occupation and settlement of Palestinian land.

‘I am so pleased that this section has been put back in after being inexplicably omitted from the NPF report. Let me tell you my perspective on this, I am Jewish, I come from a tradition of anti-racist and anti-colonial struggle, a socialist tradition of the international solidarity of the oppressed people.

‘This is a fundamental feature of our traditions of a party committed to justice and equality. Oppression and discrimination are rampant in today’s world, so why Palestine? It is not only that this year marks fifty years of Israeli occupation and illegal settlement.

‘It is not only that this year marks ten years of the siege of Gaza with intermediate military onslaughts against its people. This year also marks 100 years since the Balfour Declaration when a British Foreign Secretary promised the land of Palestine to the Jewish people, my people.

‘The civil rights of the existing population, that is the Palestinians, were meant to be protected, but that turned out to be an empty promise. We Brits, all of us, have a responsibility for what occurred. Despite huge misgivings and even outright opposition from many Jews, our leaders, British leaders facilitated founded a state which privileges Jews like myself over non-Jews.

‘Seventy years ago, 750,000 Palestinians were driven from their homes, in what was a catastrophe that they call the Nakba. More than 450,000 villages were destroyed, the world’s longest-running refugee population was created. We Brits need to take responsibility for the ongoing Palestinian tragedy dated from Balfour’s pledge.

‘So in this policy report we call for an end to Israel’s blockade on Gaza, an end to occupation, of settlements and the endorsement of the Palestinian state. This is the very least that we should be doing, I say this as a Jew and an anti-racist and a dedicated member of this revived socialist, internationalist Labour Party, and comrades I am not an anti-semite and conference this Party does not have a problem with Jews.’