- Written by Christy Cooney
- bbc news
Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer will hold talks with Muslim MPs amid tensions over the party’s stance on the Israel-Gaza war.
This comes after an Islamic center visited by Sir Keir on Sunday said a statement he issued after the event was “seriously misleading”.
Lord Keir has come under fire for apparently claiming that Israel has the “right” to cut off water and energy to Gaza.
He later clarified his position, saying he only meant that the country had the right to self-defense.
At least 19 Labor MPs have already left the party over the comments, with some MPs also criticizing the leadership’s stance.
More than 30 Labor MPs, as well as former leader Jeremy Corbyn, now an independent. Supported calls Toward a ceasefire in the region.
However, last week Sir Keir refused to endorse that position, saying instead that Israel has the right to defend itself.
Eight Oxford councilors resigned, leaving Labor with a majority in parliament.
Sources within the party confirmed to the BBC that Sir Keir was due to meet several of his own Muslim MPs on Wednesday to discuss the issue.
In an interview with LBC on October 11, Sir Keir was asked whether it was “appropriate” for Israel to cut off electricity and water supplies to Gaza as part of its territorial siege.
“I think Israel certainly has that right,” he said. “It is clear that everything must be done within the bounds of international law, but we do not want to deviate from the fundamental principle that Israel has the right to defend itself.”
Amid criticism of his comments, on Sunday Sir Keir visited the Islamic Center of South Wales in Cardiff and met with members and leaders of the Muslim community.
in Statement released at a later date Speaking to X, formerly Twitter, he said he had met with people at the center and was “deeply moved” to “hear their pain and horror at the suffering of civilians in Gaza.”
“I have made clear that it is not my view that Israel has the right to cut off water, food, fuel and medicine, and that has never been the case. International law must be respected.”
“We have reiterated our demands for the release of all hostages, more humanitarian aid to Gaza, restoration of water and electricity, and a renewed focus on a two-state solution,” he said.
But late Tuesday A response has been issued The Muslim Council of Wales, on behalf of the centre, expressed “regret” at the statement and apologized for the “hurt and confusion” the decision to host the visit had caused “many people in the Muslim community”. .
“Our aim was to raise the concern of the Muslim community about the suffering of the Palestinian people.”
“It was a powerful and honest conversation that reflected the emotions the Muslim community is feeling at this time.
“We would like to emphasize that Keir Starmer’s social media posts and images grossly misrepresent our congregation and the nature of the visit.
“We unequivocally affirm the need for a free Palestine.”
Last week, Sir Keir wrote to all Labor MPs reiterating his belief that Israel should follow international law and be granted more humanitarian access to Gaza.
Oxford councilor Imogen Thomas, who left Labor last week, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The onus is on the potential next prime minister to be absolutely clear on this.” .
She said she did not believe Sir Keir was alleging a breach of international law, but accused him of “not talking about some of the atrocities we are seeing”.
Comments from Labor leader Anas Sarwar also appear to be at odds with Sir Keir’s position.
Sir Keir did not explicitly say that Israel was violating international law, but he stressed that international law must be respected.