On Saturday, the UK’s Labor party announced that it had elected Keir Starmer as its new leader—signaling the defeat of the viciously anti-Israel, and often anti-Semitic, faction of the party led by the outgoing leader Jeremy Corbyn. In his victory speech, Starmer made a point of pledging to “tear out this poison [of anti-Semitism] by its roots and judge success by the return of Jewish members” to the party’s ranks. Luke Akehurst does not, however, expect Starmer to bring about a complete shift in the party’s attitudes toward the Jewish state:
It isn’t realistic to expect the reversal of the changes Corbyn brought to the Labor party’s platform, such as support for boycotts [of Jewish businesses in the West Bank] and an embargo on arms sales [to Israel], because Starmer will have other policy priorities; he won’t be looking for confrontation on foreign policy at party conferences as he will want to emphasize unity and carry the left-wing of his own support base with him. [Furthermore], he won’t have the votes to win any fights on these issues.
But we can expect a return to some kind of normalcy in terms of Labor’s relationship with Israel, and with . . . Labor’s sister parties there. We might expect Starmer to make a fairly early trip to Israel and the West Bank, once the coronavirus travel restrictions are lifted, to meet Israeli and Palestinian counterparts [and] to take up the invitation to visit Yad Vashem from the former leader of Israel’s Labor party, Isaac Herzog, that Corbyn ignored.
I don’t think we will see any of the inflammatory rhetoric of the Corbyn era, or tolerance of the waving of hundreds of Palestinian flags at party conferences—the new leadership will probably want to try to avoid ever debating the topic again.