A senior shadow cabinet minister has admitted that people have been “upset and hurt” by Labour’s initial response to the Israel-Hamas conflict.
Wes Streeting, the shadow secretary of state for health and social care, said that people wanted his party to be “louder and clearer” about the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Gaza.
Asked if voters could be turned away from Labour as a result, Streeting said: “No, I think people have been upset and hurt and wanted us to be louder and clearer on the humanitarian crisis.”
The comments, issued on Sky News, come as tensions have emerged in the Labour Party over the party’s stance on the Israel-Hamas conflict, with Labour leader Keir Starmer having been heavily criticised after an earlier interview with LBC.
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In the interview with LBC, Starmer appeared to suggest that Israel had the right to withhold water and food from Palestinians in Gaza.
The presenter asked of Israel’s response to Hamas’ initial attack: “A siege is appropriate? Cutting off power, cutting off water?”. The Labour leader responded: “I think that Israel does have that right. It is an ongoing situation.”
Starmer’s spokesman has since suggested that the LBC interview confused Labour’s position because “there were overlapping questions and answers based on what had been being said before”.
A subsequent visit to a Mosque was criticised after Starmer released a statement on X (formerly Twitter )which was considered by attendees to have “gravely misrepresented” the meeting.
After the visit, a post on X from the Labour leader read: “I was grateful to hear from the Muslim community of the South Wales Islamic Centre.
“I repeated our calls for all hostages to be released, more humanitarian aid to enter Gaza, for the water and power to be switched back on, and a renewed focus on the two state solution.”
The centre’s statement said: “We wish to stress Keir Starmer’s social media post and images gravely misrepresented our congregants and the nature of the visit.
“We affirm, unequivocally, the need for a free Palestine. We implore all those with political authority to uphold international law, and to end the occupation of Palestine.”
Keir Starmer yesterday met concerned Muslim MPs and Peers with deputy leader Angela Rayner.
The meeting, which came as at least 20 Labour councillors have resigned from the party in protest at its positioning, saw senior figures discuss the backlash to Labour’s stance on the conflict in Israel and Gaza.
In the meeting, Starmer did not back calls for a ceasefire, instead saying Labour supports “humanitarian pauses”, mirroring the government’s position.
The position was repeated by Streeting, who said UK politicians need to prioritise supporting Israel in getting hostages back from Gaza “and making sure this sort of thing doesn’t happen again”.
Streeting also told Sky News that Starmer, despite previous comments in the LBC interview, “doesn’t think it’s ok cut off power and water”.
“It was never Keir’s intention to give the impression that we support those measures,” he said.
“In interviews you have a sustained line of questioning — he was answering a previous question and not that one.”
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