|Labour leader Keir Starmer last night addressed a capacity crowd of over 300 at Labour Friends of Israel’s conference reception in Liverpool.
Labour members and LFI supporters were addressed by a number of prominent party figures, including leader Keir Starmer, Shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy, and Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves.
In his speech, Starmer pledged to “continue to root out antisemitism wherever it shows its ugly face in our party and our country”.
He heralded LFI’s role in returning Labour to the political mainstream, saying that, “when we go into government, [LFI and its work would] be inscribed on the foundation stone as part of this story and part of this journey”.
He also wished the best of luck to Labour’s Israeli sister party, led by Merav Michaeli, for the upcoming elections on 1 November, saying: “we’re rooting for you”.
Addressing LFI directly, he thanked the organisation for “taking the chance to give me the space to judge me on what I did, not on what I said”. In light on “the years that had gone before”, he make clear that “we wouldn’t be here today, with a changed Labour Party – a remade Labour Party – facing the electorate with confidence, if you hadn’t done that”.
The night’s keynote speaker was Emilie Moatti, an Israeli Labor Knesset member who has attended Labour Conference throughout this week.
She celebrated Labour’s record in government in “honouring the principles of solidarity and internationalism, fighting racism and antisemitism at home and supporting the world’s sole Jewish state overseas”.
She also urged Labour members to “stand with Israeli progressives” and “stand up for peace, two states and a brighter future for Israelis and Palestinians alike”.
David Lammy said that it was a “huge honour to be here as Shadow Foreign Secretary, to work with [LFI chair] Steve [McCabe] and [LFI director] Michael [Rubin], and to say that I am a Labour friend of Israel”.
He welcomed the “progress that’s been made with the Abraham Accords” between Israel and four Arab nations in the Gulf and North Africa, while adding that recent protests against the Iranian regime demonstrate the “hope that keeps progressive alive”.
Lammy also welcomed Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s comments at the UN last week, making clear his support for “a two state solution: Israel safe and secure, and a sovereign, viable Palestinian state”.
In her remarks, Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves – a longstanding LFI vice-chair – made clear that she was “proud to be a Labour friend of Israel”, as well as thanking LFI for “standing here through the difficult years and the good years”.
LFI chair Steve McCabe used his comments at the reception to launch a major Labour Friends of Israel publication, Steps to a Two State Solution, which will “set out an agenda to narrow the parameters of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, improve the lives of ordinary Palestinians and Israelis, and help foster the conditions in which a final agreement can be reached”.