Lammy defends Starmer’s stance on Gaza conflict
David Lammy, the shadow foreign secretary of the UK, has said that Israel’s airstrike on a refugee camp in Gaza, which killed more than 50 civilians, “can be legally justified” if there was a military objective. He also defended Labour leader Keir Starmer’s refusal to call for a ceasefire, saying that the party was “united” on its concern for the humanitarian crisis.
Lammy was speaking to BBC Radio 4 Today programme on Wednesday, amid growing criticism of Starmer’s position on the escalating violence between Israel and Hamas. Starmer has been accused of lacking “moral courage and leadership” by some of his own MPs and supporters, who have called for an immediate end to the hostilities.
Lammy said that he was “heartbroken” by the images of the destruction in Gaza, but argued that Israel had the right to defend itself from Hamas’s rocket attacks. He said that Israel had to explain how its actions conformed with the laws of war and were proportionate, but added that it was “wrong” to bomb a refugee camp only from an ethical perspective.
Lammy cites Hamas’s use of human shields
Lammy claimed that Hamas, the Islamist group that controls Gaza, relied on human shields to protect its militants and weapons. He said that Israel had announced that it had killed important Hamas commanders in the airstrike, and that this could be a legitimate military objective.
He also said that there was a ceasefire in place before October 7, when a terrorist attack in Israel killed 33 people and wounded more than 100. He said that this was the worst attack in Israel’s history, and that it triggered the current cycle of violence. He said that Israel had to degrade Hamas’s ability to attack them again.
However, Lammy did not mention that the terrorist attack was carried out by a lone gunman who had no affiliation with Hamas or any other Palestinian group. He also did not acknowledge that Israel had been carrying out airstrikes and raids in Gaza since August, killing at least 25 Palestinians and injuring more than 100.
Lammy faces pressure from within Labour
Lammy’s comments have sparked outrage from some Labour members and supporters, who have accused him of being complicit in Israel’s war crimes and ignoring the plight of the Palestinians. They have also questioned his loyalty to Starmer, who has faced calls to resign over his handling of the Gaza issue.
Some Labour MPs and prominent figures have openly challenged Starmer’s stance and called for a ceasefire. They include Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar, London Mayor Sadiq Khan, former shadow chancellor John McDonnell, former shadow home secretary Diane Abbott, and former leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Lammy insisted that he and his colleagues subscribed to collective responsibility, but refused to give a straight answer when asked if they could disagree with Starmer and keep their jobs. He said that this was a difficult time for everyone, and that the party had many people with lived connections across communities.
Lammy calls for diplomatic efforts to end the conflict
Lammy said that he wanted to see the violence stop as soon as possible, and that he supported diplomatic efforts to achieve a lasting peace. He said that he welcomed the involvement of the US, Egypt, Qatar, and other countries in trying to broker a ceasefire.
He also said that he hoped that the UK government would play a constructive role in resolving the conflict, and urged Foreign Secretary James Cleverly to use his influence with Israel and other parties. He said that the UK had a moral duty to help end the suffering of both Israelis and Palestinians.
He also said that he was concerned about the humanitarian situation in Gaza, where more than 200 people have been killed and thousands injured since May 10. He said that he was glad that the Rafah crossing had opened to allow some foreign nationals to leave Gaza, but stressed that it was vital that lifesaving aid could enter as well.
Lammy faces uncertain future as shadow foreign secretary
Lammy’s remarks have raised doubts about his future as shadow foreign secretary, a position he has held since April 2020. He has been seen as a loyal ally of Starmer, who appointed him after winning the leadership contest.
However, Lammy has also been criticised for his lack of experience and expertise in foreign affairs, as well as his inconsistency and ambiguity on key issues. He has been accused of flip-flopping on Brexit, China, Iran, Yemen, and other matters.
Lammy has also faced allegations of plagiarism and misrepresentation in his speeches and writings. He has been accused of copying passages from other sources without attribution or acknowledgement. He has also been accused of making false or misleading claims about his own background and achievements.
Lammy has denied any wrongdoing or malpractice, and has defended his record as shadow foreign secretary. He has said that he is proud of his work and that he is committed to advancing Labour’s values and vision on the world stage.
However, some observers have speculated that Lammy may be replaced or reshuffled in the near future, as Starmer seeks to regain the trust and confidence of his party and the public. They have suggested that Lammy may be moved to a less prominent or sensitive role, or even sacked altogether.
Will Lammy survive as shadow foreign secretary, or will he face the axe from Starmer? The answer may depend on how the Gaza conflict unfolds, and how Lammy responds to it.