Keir Starmer: Israel is not an Apartheid state

Keir Starmer. Editorial credit: ComposedPix /

Labour leader Keir Starmer has told the Jewish Chronicle that he does not believe Israel is an Apartheid state despite the most prominent human rights organisations in the world labelling it as such.  

In an interview with the pro-Israel publication, Starmer was asked about Amnesty International branding Israel an “apartheid state” in February.

He said: “No. I’ve been very clear about that. That is not the Labour Party position.”

He said he presented his stance at the Labour Friends of Israel lunch before Chanukah, where he was strongly and unapologetically pro-Israel.

In that speech he said: “As the principles enunciated in its Declaration of Independence show – the State of Israel wasn’t just built as a response to those who committed mass murder in the bloodlands of Eastern Europe. It was built on a worldview that promotes the goals of universal freedom, justice, equality and peace.

“Sometimes Israel falls short of those goals and we, in the British Labour Party, will always say when we believe there are wrongs or shortcomings.

The Israeli separation wall. Editorial credit: Ryan Rodrick Beiler /

“But in Israel’s rumbustious democracy and its independent judiciary, its vibrant media and the rights won by the struggle of the women’s movement, the LGBT community, and religious and racial minorities – we see a path to peace and prosperity which is worthy of our admiration and support.”

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Stamer, who has a Jewish wife and is raising his children with a Jewish identity, has extended family in Israel.

Since becoming Labour leader has he has stripped former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn of the whip for saying that antisemitism was “dramatically overstated for political reasons.”

He has also presided over the expulsion of many pro-Palestine members from the Labour Party on the grounds of countering anti-semitism.

In February Amnesty International followed a host of other international human rights groups by labelling Israel’s actions “apartheid.”

In a damning report Amnesty said that Israeli authorities must be held accountable for committing the crime of apartheid against Palestinians.

Their investigation detailed how Israel enforces a system of oppression and domination against the Palestinian people wherever it has control over their rights. This includes Palestinians living in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), as well as displaced refugees in other countries.

The report, Israel’s Apartheid against Palestinians: Cruel System of Domination and Crime against Humanity, sets out how massive seizures of Palestinian land and property, unlawful killings, forcible transfer, drastic movement restrictions, and the denial of nationality and citizenship to Palestinians are all components of a system which amounts to apartheid under international law.

Whether they live in Gaza, East Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank, or Israel itself, Amnesty said Palestinians are treated as an inferior racial group and systematically deprived of their rights.

Amnesty International called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to consider the crime of apartheid in its current investigation in the OPT and calls on all states to exercise universal jurisdiction to bring perpetrators of apartheid crimes to justice.

Israel labelled the report “false, biased, and antisemitic.”

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