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Labour demands travel bans for perpetrators of settler violence in West Bank

Shadow foreign secretary David Lammy (Jonathan Brady/PA)
Shadow foreign secretary David Lammy (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Labour has demanded that ministers impose travel bans on Israelis responsible for settler violence in the West Bank while criticising the “intolerable” death toll in Gaza.

Shadow foreign secretary David Lammy urged the Government to provide greater assistance to humanitarian organisations supporting Palestinians.

In a hardening of Labour’s tone, he argued in an article for the Observer that “too often, Israeli authorities have turned a blind eye to settler violence”.

He also criticised two hardline Israeli ministers for their “totally unacceptable” support for settlers while promoting “dangerous and extreme rhetoric about Palestinians”.

“Britain should join with key partners like the US in pressuring Israel to act on settler violence,” he wrote.

“The UK Government must impose these travel bans now, and provide greater assistance to humanitarian organisations that support Palestinians at risk of forcible transfer.

“It is imperative that these forcibly displaced Palestinians be supported in returning safely and freely to their homes.”

Repeating criticism from leader Sir Keir Starmer, Mr Lammy said that the “death and destruction” in Gaza over the last two months since the Hamas attack has been “intolerable”.

The shadow foreign secretary was writing after visiting a Bedouin community in the West Bank, arguing that since the October 7 attack 1,000 Palestinians have been forcibly displaced in the region.

“Illegal settlers do not just steal land and possessions. They snatch the hope of a two-state solution, the only prospect for a lasting peace across Israel and Palestine,” he said.

Mr Lammy singled out national security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and finance minister Bezalel Smotrich for criticism.

He said they have secured millions in funding for settlers “while defunding the Palestinian Authority and promoting dangerous and extreme rhetoric about Palestinians”.

Labour has been deeply divided over the response to Israel’s war in the Gaza Strip, with some seeing the leadership as being too uncritical of the government in Tel Aviv.

Mr Lammy’s comments came after Britain chose to abstain on a United Nations resolution demanding an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza.

Thirteen of the 15-member security council voted in favour, but the action was blocked because of Washington’s veto on Friday.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had warned of a “humanitarian catastrophe” in Gaza as he urged the nations to demand Israel stops the war.

He argued that Gaza is at “a breaking point”, that there is a serious threat of starvation and that there is a risk of “mass displacement into Egypt”.