Merav Michaeli. Photo: Ron Kedmi, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

UK Labour leader Keir Starmer held a phone call with Merav Michaeli, leader of Israel’s Labor Party, last weekend.

Days before Israelis went to the polls for the fourth time in two years, Starmer wished Michaeli – elected to lead Labour in January 2021 – luck in the upcoming elections. Michaeli tweeted a photo of herself on the phone, saying: “The connection between Havoda [Labor] Party and Labour is critical. We agreed that Labor must strengthen, grow and rebuild to once again be a party of power. Israel needs to rebuild its international links. I’m on it.”

The conversation represented a marked shift from the recent past: in April 2018, then Labor leader Avi Gabbay suspended ties with UK Labour’s leadership under Jeremy Corbyn, accusing him of “showing hostility to the Jewish community” and “allowing antisemitic statements and actions”. Despite this, UK Labour and Israeli Labor have remained long-standing sister parties.

LFI chair Steve McCabe welcomed news of renewed cooperation between Labour and Labor, saying: “I’m delighted that Keir has spoken to Israeli Labor leader Merav Michaeli to wish her good luck for the Israeli election. This is a positive first step in rebuilding the relationship with our sister party and demonstrating that to it, and the wider Israeli public that, under Keir, Labour is changing for the better: progress is being made on tackling antisemitism and the party is returning to its long-standing position of support for the Jewish state”.