Embattled Labour leader Keir Starmer has pressed on Prime Minster Boris Johnson to advocate for a Palestinian state during the upcoming G7 talks in Cornwall.
Speaking from the dispatch box during Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday Starmer used his final question to highlight Israel’s latest aggression on Gaza and the occupied West Bank while urging Johnson to support the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state.
“The appalling violence recently which killed 63 children in Gaza and two children in Israel shows just how urgent this is,” Starmer said, drawing focus on Israel’s 11-day onslaught which killed over 250 Palestinians. “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.”
Urging Johnson to raise the issue of Palestinian statehood during the G7 summit, Starmer said: “Will the Prime Minister take the opportunity this weekend to press for renewed international agreement to finally recognise the State of Palestine, alongside a safe and secure Israel, to stop the expansion of illegal settlements and to get a meaningful peace process back up and running?”
Responding to the Labour leader’s question, Johnson said the government’s position on the Middle East continues to support a two-state solution. “It’s been a long-standing objective of this government, and I think it’s common ground across this House, that the solution for the Middle East peace process is a two-state solution and we continue to press for that.”
“I’ve made that position plain both in my conversations with the Palestinian Authority and of course with Israel,” Johnson added.
Starmer’s comment coincides with a crucial by-election race in the West Yorkshire seat of Batley and Spen while also facing criticism over his leadership. Critics have accused him throwing the Palestinian issue under the bus and he is now cynically using the plight of the Palestinians to fend off the challenge from George Galloway. The former member of parliament poses a serious challenge and is likely to split the labour vote.
Israel’s recent aggression on Gaza has been at the forefront of Galloway’s campaign and he has been backed by local Muslim leaders who are said to be angry with Labour party policies.