What would Miliband really do about Gaza?

Recent rhetoric aside, the speech he made to Labour Friends of Israel a few weeks ago suggests a slightly different reality.

Mel Kelly
6 August 2014

Flickr/Plashing Vole. Some rights reserved.

Ed Miliband stated publicly this weekend, while he agreed with David Cameron that Hamas is a terrorist organisation and it’s rocket attacks and terror tunnels show it’s murderous intent he went on to say:

"But the Prime Minister is wrong not to have opposed Israel's incursion into Gaza. And his silence on the killing of hundreds of innocent Palestinian civilians caused by Israel's military action will be inexplicable to people across Britain and internationally"

But, as David Cameron has proven over the NHS and Nick Clegg has proven over tuition fees, what leaders of political parties say to gain votes and power tends to get turned on its head the minute the keys of Number 10 are firmly in their grasp. What the UK media failed to make clear this weekend were the personal promises Ed Miliband made to the Jewish Community in the UK at a Labour Friends of Israel meeting just a few weeks ago, if he should become the Prime Minister after the general election.

He promised, because it is important to the Jewish community in Britain (0.5% of the population), the next Labour Government will continue the special relationship with Israel as a commitment for government.

Ed Miliband also said, let it be clear he believes threats of boycotts of Israel are wrong and he and his party will resolutely oppose the isolation of Israel and instead his Labour government would make it a major priority to further collaborate and build stronger working relationships between UK and Israeli companies.

He also spoke of how sad it made him feel that some Israeli children don’t get the luxury of playing outside and instead have to play in underground playgrounds and of the bravery of the parents of one Israeli child killed in 2011, and that because of these things he had discovered on his April visit to Israel, the Labour party priority should be Israel’s right to protect itself.

The only reference Ed Miliband made to the Israeli occupied territories of Palestine was that he had visited a Bedoin camp where he admitted the people live a miserable existence under constant threat of eviction due to Israeli settlements, settlements he admits threaten any two state solution.

Mr Miliband made absolutely no reference to Israel’s continued land, sea and air blockade of Gaza or the pain Palestinian parents feel at the death of their children at Israeli hands or how difficult it is for Palestinian children to play outside too. Ed Miliband made it clear as far as he was concerned that Iran’s “regime” – which is in fact a democratically elected government - had supplied rockets to Hamas and Hezbollah. 

He also said “If Iran continues its illegal nuclear programme and develops a weapon, it poses a grave threat to Israel and to the stability of the region.“ This, despite US intelligence agencies stating in February 2012 that Iran was not pursuing an illegal nuclear programme to develop weapons.

He ended his speech to the UK Jewish community in June, after the three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped, by stating if he becomes Prime Minster in less than a year’s time “I will be proud to do so as a Friend Of Israel”.

While Ed Miliband plays opposition word games, what would Labour Party policy actually be if he becomes Prime Minister?

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