Labour’s London mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan has explained to the Jewish Chronicle newspaper why he switched from lobbying for sanctions against Israel to opposing boycotts of it.
Khan had repeatedly called on ministers to impose sanctions on Israel in 2009, but the Tooting MP told the JC that after studying the evidence he now believed “we must not turn our face against Israel.”
On his opposition to boycotts, he said: “The evidence clearly shows that boycott, sanctions and divestment against Israel do not help us achieve peace – we must not turn our face against Israel.
“As the boycotts of Sodastream International showed, boycotts only hurt working people and do nothing to build a lasting peace in the region.”
Explaining his earlier anti-Israel lobbying, Khan said: “Like most people, I was deeply concerned by the Gaza War in 2008 and 2009. More than 1,000 people died – both Israeli and Palestinian –and there was a real risk that the conflict could have escalated even further.
“In 2008 I met with Foreign Office Ministers including David Miliband to urge them to do everything possible to get a commitment to an urgent ceasefire from both sides.
“I am committed to a peaceful two-state solution, and I do not believe that boycotts, sanctions and divestments will help us get there.”
Meanwhile, the Friends of Al Aqsa organisation has expressed disappointment at Khan’s stance.
“Most Londoners like the rest of the country have championed Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) to help Palestinians gain peace and justice… This support was recently replicated when over 16,000 people signed a petition to keep publicly funded bodies free to boycott unethical companies,” it said.