Leader of the UK labour party, Jeremy Corbyn, visited al-baqa’a refugee camp on Saturday, home to 100,000 Palestinian refugees, in a tour that also included Jordan’s mostly Syrian Zaatari camp to mark UN world refugee day.
He had previously tweeted that “The next Labour government will recognise Palestine as a state as one step towards a genuine two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict.”
He further clarified his position in an interview with Al-Jazeera. affirming that “The Palestinian people’s rights must be met, and that means an end to the occupation, the settlement policy, and the siege of Gaza, as well as recognizing the right to return.” He also criticized the Trump administration’s decision to reduce aid to UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees) by over 50 percent.
This marks a change from traditional British Government policy, especially under the last two Conservative governments, who have generally been more pro-Israel.
Corbyn has consistently shown some support for the Palestinian cause. In April, he attacked ‘Western silence’ over the killings in Gaza and many hope that his election could lead to a more pro-Palestine, or at least less pro-Israeli foreign policy.
However, there are also fears that a smear campaign by the pro-Israel lobby, accusing many critics of Israel of anti-Semitism could push Corbyn and Labour members to be less vocal on the issue.