Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn spoke at the Labour Friends of Palestine event last week where he repeated his condemnation for President Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. He also spoke out against US cuts to UNRWA’s funding and appeared to place sole responsibility for Palestinian hardships on the shoulders of Israel.
Labour Friends of Palestine met in Parliament on 14 March with the meeting including speeches by Palestinian envoy, Manuel Hassassian, Jeremy Corbyn and Palestinian teenage poet Leanne Mohamad. The event was attended by a number of Labour MPs.
Jeremy Corbyn slammed Trump saying, “Donald Trump, his recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has sparked a resurgence in tensions. And we absolutely condemn that. What we want is peace achieved in the region, you don’t achieve it by the actions of Donald Trump, in that sense.”
While Corbyn condemns this move, this is something we at CUFI applaud. If you would like to see the UK move its embassy to Jerusalem, please consider joining 25,000+ people in signing our petition here.
Corbyn also spoke out against the cuts made to UNRWA, the United Nations body that deals with Palestinian “refugees”.
“Also the cuts that have been made to the funding of UNRWA, jeopardising schooling and healthcare for Palestinian refugees across the Middle East, including 500,000 children whose only access to education is UN funded schools through UNRWA. No one can believe that such a state of affairs will ever bring about a long-lasting peace”, Corbyn said.
UNRWA is painted as a humanitarian agency which provides education, health care and social services to needy Palestinians across the Middle East. In reality, the organisation perpetuates the refugee status of the Palestinian people. They are overfunded for the number of real refugees in the world, have three times more staff than the global refugee agency and are known to be education Palestinian children on the “right of return” and countless anti-Israel and anti-Semitic literature. The main funders of UNRWA are the United States and the European Union, and their money is being badly managed.
It is also worth noting that the US cut $65 million from UNRWA at the same time, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas bought himself a $50 million private jet (a luxury item that not even Israeli leaders have). Abbas made this purchase whilst pleading for additional funds from other countries, showing the utter hypocrisy of the Palestinian leadership.
Corbyn stated in his speech that “The neglect of the serious human rights abuses the Palestinian people are suffering is a mark on the world’s conscience.”
He also spoke of how those who defend the Palestinians are “oppressed”, saying there are “smear campaigns” against those who speak out to support the Palestinians.
Corbyn made quite an interesting statement when he said, “Palestinian defenders are facing charges, judicial attack and detention.”
It is unclear what he is meaning by “Palestinian defenders”, but clearly there are charges placed against Palestinian terrorists and criminals and some of those are placed in detention because they have committed violent acts against Israelis.
Corbyn also appears to refer to Israel as being apartheid when he says, “Those [Palestinian defenders] in Israel are categorised as foreign proxies and conspirators.”
This is a very broad statement from the Labour leader. To imply that Israel treats Palestinians living within Israel differently is very misleading. Most Israeli Arabs (or Palestinians living in Israel) are happy living within Israel. They are treated fairly, have an equal rights, an equal vote and the current Israeli government is investing more money into the Arab community of Israel than any previous government. They are investing this money in housing and education and have passed a law so that all Israeli schools, including Jewish schools, are now teaching their students Arabic. This is so they can bridge the gap between the two communities. On top of all this, polls and research shows that from the Israeli public’s point of view, Israeli Jews are more than happy to have Israeli Arabs living side by side with them and Israeli Arabs prefer an Israeli state than a Palestinian one.
Throughout his speech Corbyn makes no attempt to paint Israel in a good light. Instead Corbyn places all the blame on Israel when it comes to the hardships the Palestinians face.
He concludes saying, “end the occupation, end the oppression and liberate all those people so they may live their lives to the full, rather than being stuck in poverty and depending on the aid of others because they are unable to act in the way in which they support themselves.”
There are a whole host of things we can say about this sentence. Corbyn is clearly saying that it is the “occupation” that is causing all of the Palestinians troubles. However, it is not that at all.
The reason the Palestinians are “stuck in poverty” is because their leaders are mismanaging the funds they are getting. Whilst Palestinian leaders live a life of luxury, their people struggle in poverty. We have put together recent articles showing the high levels of corruption in the Palestinian leadership and the misspending of funds. There is also the case of indoctrination, how Palestinians are taught from birth to hate Israel and how, rather than wanting peace, the Palestinian leaders want Israel wiped off the face of the earth.
The international community is doing nothing to address these issues. Instead, they do similar to what Corbyn did and blame Israel. Jeremy Corbyn has long been an ardent supporter for the Palestinian cause and his recent speech shows his inability to view Israel favourably.
The video of Corbyn’s speech along with the full transcript of his Israel-Palestine comments are below:
— Labour Palestine (@lfpme) March 14, 2018
Jeremy Corbyn: “In the occupied territories, over 50 years of occupation, over a quarter of Palestinians continue to face very long-term unemployment and half the population are in need of humanitarian assistance. Increasingly expanding settlements which are illegal under international law.
Donald Trump, his recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has sparked a resurgence in tensions. And we absolutely condemn that. What we want is peace achieved in the region, you don’t achieve it by the actions of Donald Trump, in that sense.
Also the cuts that have been made to the funding of UNRWA, jeopardising schooling and healthcare for Palestinian refugees across the Middle East, including 500,000 children whose only access to education is UN funded schools through UNRWA. No one can believe that such a state of affairs will ever bring about a long-lasting peace. That’s why a Labour government will do everything in its power to ensure a political solution, based on human rights, international law for the Palestinian people.
Nobody in this room needs any convincing about the urgency of this. Manuel just explained it far better than I could. The neglect of the serious human rights abuses the Palestinian people are suffering is a mark on the world’s conscience.
Many Palestinian and Israeli human rights defenders are standing up for those who are oppressed. They are calling for justice and an end to the occupation and they are suffering toxic consequences; smear campaigns against them and their families, surveillance, threats to their lives and their livelihoods.
Palestinian defenders are facing charges, judicial attack and detention. Those in Israel are categorised as foreign proxies and conspirators. Human rights defenders from abroad are being denied entry into the country.
I spent most of my life, with many others, making the case for diplomacy and dialogue over war and conflict, often in the face of hostility. And I think we should just pause for a moment and think. Our human rights came from brave people in this country and other countries that gave us the norms that gave us elected democracy, that gave us the international conventions on human rights and the universal declaration. It’s brave human rights defenders around the world who risk their lives, day in and day out, to assert those values that we should recognise and stand up for. And recognise rights are only defended as long that those that achieve them and those that follow are prepared to also defend them. But in the face of these injustices we are not helpless. Let’s continue to stand together to make a real difference in the lives of the Palestinians. And many who suffer discrimination and human rights abuses across the Middle East.
As I said in my speech for the Labour Party conference last year; let’s give real support to end the oppression and dispossession of the Palestinian people. The 50 year occupation and illegal settlement expansion. And move to a genuine and just solution for the Israel-Palestine conflict so that the people of the region, all the people of the region, can live in peace and justice, recognising the cultural heritage and values of both. But end the occupation, end the oppression and liberate all those people so they may live their lives to the full rather than being stuck in poverty and depending on the aid of others because they are unable to act in the way which they support themselves.
I want to thank everyone in this room for being here tonight and for all you do to draw the world’s attention to these issues. Solidarity makes a difference, solidarity will make a difference and I want to lead a government that will make a difference.”