UK Labour leader Keir Starmer vows to visit Israel 'as soon as possible'

Starmer has made clear his commitment to fighting antisemitism within the party and rebuilding trust with the Jewish community.

New Labour Party leader Keir Starmer  (photo credit: REUTERS/SIMON DAWSON)
New Labour Party leader Keir Starmer
(photo credit: REUTERS/SIMON DAWSON)
UK Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer agreed on Wednesday to visit Israel "as soon as possible" with the Labour Friends of Israel (LFI), the Jewish Chronicle reported.
He made this promise during his first meeting with the LFI over Zoom, which also discussed combating antisemitism and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign targeting Israel.
Starmer is the new leader of the Labour Party, taking over after previous leader Jeremy Corbyn resigned following his loss in the recent UK elections. Corbyn's tenure as leader saw the party become the focus of allegations of antisemitism, both in the policies it supported as well as in the party's internal culture.
However, Starmer has been committed to fighting antisemitism within Labour and rebuilding trust with the Jewish community. To this end, he fired the party's shadow education minister Rebecca Long-Bailey after she promoted a conspiracy theory regarding the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. In addition, he has also apologized to the whistleblowers who told the BBC's Panorama about antisemitism in the party, and has agreed to pay them for damages after the party had sued them for defamation.
“It is extremely positive that Keir has agreed to visit Israel with LFI as soon as is possible,” LFI chair MP Steve McCabe said after their meeting, the Jewish Chronicle reported.
“We will play a full and constructive role in supporting Keir and I look forward to working with him to rebuild our party.”
He then added that: “I was delighted to chair a meeting between LFI and Labour leader Keir Starmer. Since his election, we have already seen the start of real progress in tackling the scourge of antisemitism in the party and rebuilding our relationship with the Jewish community.
“It was encouraging to hear from Keir that under his leadership Labour will once again be an honest-broker on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Our Labour values require us to support those progressives in the region who are working for peace and a two-state solution.
“Ending the disproportionate obsession with Israel is also vital to making our party a safe and welcoming space for Jewish members once again, as well as winning back the trust of the Jewish community.”
“I was delighted to meet with Labour Friends of Israel today to put on record my thanks for the crucial role they play in the Labour Party, for contributing to a balanced debate on the Middle East and for their work in supporting initiatives to promote a peaceful two-state solution for the people of Israel and Palestine,” Starmer said later, according to the Jewish Chronicle.
“I also wanted to make clear that I understand the past few years have been difficult for members of LFI as far too often the debate on the Middle East and Israel has descended into hateful antisemitism. As Labour leader. I am determined to confront this, rid our party of antisemitism and ensure we conduct our political debate in a respectful and constructive manner.”