Keir Starmer calls on Boris Johnson to back Palestinian state at G7 talks

Labour opposition leader urges Boris Johnson to raise issue at this weekend's summit in Cornwall

Keir Starmer in Parliament

Middle East Eye reports on 9 June:

UK Labour leader Keir Starmer has called on British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to press for the recognition of a Palestinian state at this weekend’s G7 summit in Cornwall.

Speaking during Prime Minister’s Question Time on Wednesday, Starmer said: “The appalling violence recently which killed 63 children in Gaza and two children in Israel shows just how urgent this is.  “For too many people in Palestine the promise of an end to the occupation and the recognition of a sovereign Palestinian state feels more distant than ever.  “So will the prime minister take the opportunity this weekend to press for renewed agreement to finally recognise a state of Palestine and to stop expansion of illegal settlements and to get a meaningful peace process back and running.”

Starmer said Johnson’s upcoming bilateral talks with US President Joe Biden and the “possibility of a new government in Israel” provided a “real chance” to restart talks.

‘Hostile environment’
Starmer’s comments come as he has faced criticism for his stance on Palestine, and accusations of taking the support of ethnic minority Labour members for granted.  Last month, he was rebuked by Labour members for what were seen as tardy and bland responses by the party to Israeli moves to expel Palestinians from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah in occupied East Jerusalem, subsequent Israeli aggression at al-Aqsa Mosque and Israel’s bombing of Gaza, which killed more than 250 Palestinians.

In April, Starmer failed to respond to a letter sent to him by more than 25 British-Palestinian Labour members in which they raised concerns about internal treatment.  The letter, obtained from Labour sources and seen exclusively by Middle East Eye, accused the party of creating a “hostile environment” for Palestinians under Starmer.

Starmer also came under fire for pulling out of a Ramadan iftar because one of the event’s organisers supported the boycott of Israeli dates.  The Labour leader had been due to virtually participate in Open Iftar, a fast-breaking event organised by the Ramadan Tent Project in May.  However, he withdrew after concerns were raised about tweets from the project’s CEO, Omar Salha.

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