David Lammy raises concerns over 'sharp' rise in West Bank violence

David Lammy (PA)
David Lammy (PA)

Labour has accused Israeli ministers of “unacceptable and offensive rhetoric” about Palestinians and condemned acts of “violence and extremism” by settlers in the West Bank.

Shadow foreign secretary David Lammy said there had been a “sharp increase in violence and displacement of Palestinians in the West Bank” since the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7.

The frontbencher’s criticism of the Israeli government and “extremist rhetoric among far-right politicians” there comes as the Labour leadership struggles to contain a revolt among MPs and activists over its stance on the conflict.

While Hamas-controlled Gaza has been the focus of Israel’s retaliation for the October massacre, scores of Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank in clashes with settlers and military strikes.

In a letter to Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, Mr Lammy said: “There has been an increase in recordings of instances of settler violence, threats and intimidation against Palestinian communities since October 7 – with homes vandalised, water supplies cut, livestock stolen and civilians threatened at gunpoint.”

He said that “as the occupying power, Israel has obligations under international law that it must uphold”.

Mr Lammy said he was “acutely concerned by the announcement by Israeli finance minister Bezalel Smotrich to withhold tax revenues from the Palestinian Authority”, which “risks weakening the PA and destabilising the West Bank at the worst possible time”.

He claimed Mr Smotrich and national security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir “have also been responsible for unacceptable and offensive rhetoric about Palestinians”.

In his letter, first reported by the Guardian, Mr Lammy asked Mr Cleverly to “condemn acts of violence and extremism by Israeli settlers” and call on the authorities to “to take actions to prevent settler violence, ensure accountability for perpetrators and condemn extremist rhetoric”.

He asked whether Mr Cleverly had urged the Israel government to reverse the decision to withhold Palestinian Authority funding and questioned what humanitarian support the UK was providing.

Mr Lammy asked whether the Westminster Government was considering imposing entry bans on settlers involved in serious criminal activity or in fostering hatred which might lead to inter-community violence in the UK.