Middle East

Sea of Palestinian flags at Labour conference during first debate on Palestine

Delegates in the audience wave Palestinian flags and banners at the annual Labour Party Conference in Liverpool (Reuters)

Delegates to Labours conference in Liverpool waved hundreds of Palestinian national flags during a rare debate on Palestine which backed an immediate suspension of arms sales to Israel.

The debate was the first time in living memory that Palestine has been discussed at the partys conference, where delegates from local parties voted to put the issue on the agenda on Sunday.

A sea of Palestinian flags as Motion on Palestine is moved at #lab18 pic.twitter.com/eHQtZGvx0L

— Labour Left (@LabourLeft) September 25, 2018

The motion calling for the party to support an immediate suspension of arms sales to Israel pending an independent investigation of Israeli killings of protesters in Gaza since 30 March was passed by conference.

I support the motion at #lab18 today calling on the immediate suspension of arms sales to Israel in solidarity with the Palestinian people. #StopArmingIsrael #Palestine #Labour4Palestine

— Jonny Paylor ? #GTTO (@LabourPaylor) September 25, 2018

However Labours shadow foreign secretary, Emily Thornberry, told delegates that anti-Semites in the party were using the issue of Palestine to promote hatred, calling for them to be thrown out of the party.

"We all support the Palestinian cause, we are all committed to recognise the Palestinian state, and I stand here with no hesitation when I condemn the Netanyahu government for its racist policies and its criminal actions against the Palestinian people.

"But I know as well, and we must all acknowledge, that there are sickening individuals on the fringes of our movement, who use our legitimate support for Palestine as a cloak and a cover for their despicable hatred of Jewish people, and their desire to see Israel destroyed," she said.

Israels recent nation state law, which enshrines Jewish supremacy, and the killing of more than 170 protesters in Gaza demanding the right to return to the homes they were expelled from in 1948, has sparked growing pressure in the party to more robustly back Palestinian human rights.

"Such a powerful moment when over 1000 Palestinians flags flew in solidarity with #Palestine whilst the #StopArmingIsrael motion was heard at #Lab18. First time in living memory a Palestine motion heard at Labour conference. Palestine will be free,” wrote Huda Ammori in a tweet.

Such a powerful moment when over 1000 Palestinians flags flew in solidarity with #Palestine whilst the #StopArmingIsrael motion was heard at #Lab18. First time in living memory a Palestine motion heard at Labour conference. Palestine will be free. pic.twitter.com/8cGPmB9tps

— Huda Ammori (@HudaAmmori) September 25, 2018

Many Labour supporters posted video images of the scenes on the conference floor as hundreds of flags were waved in solidarity with Palestine.

Wow wow wow! Amazing support for the Palestinian people at #lab18!

The room was filled with Palestinian flags and chants to “free free Palestine!”

A historic event in Labour Party history, so proud to be a part of it. #Labour4Palestine #Palestine #FreePalestine ?? pic.twitter.com/fn6NjXzmce

— Jonny Paylor ? #GTTO (@LabourPaylor) September 25, 2018

Palestine Solidarity Campaign director Ben Jamal, who helped organise the flag waving, said: "In August Palestinian civil society wrote to the Labour Party saying 'don't let our voices be silenced. Stand with us'. Today Labour members @ #Lab18 responded with a sea of Palestine flags and chants of 'Free, Free Palestine'."

In August Palestinian civil society wrote to the Labour Party saying "dont let our voices be silenced.Stand with us". Today Labour members @ #Lab18 responded with a sea of Palestine flags and chants of "Free, Free Palestine ". #Labour4Palestine #Solidarity pic.twitter.com/OlTgzHswjq

— Ben Jamal (@BenJamalpsc) September 25, 2018

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