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New Labour appointments show shift to anti-Israel line

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By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Just days into its tenure, Britain’s newly minted Labour government is showing clear signs of moving away from the pro-Israel line taken by its Conservative predecessor.

In what would be a particular blow to Israel, The Guardian reported Monday that the government is expected to drop the Tories’ June challenge to the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in investigating the Jewish state.

Labour officials have confirmed that the party believes that the ICC does have the necessary jurisdiction.

The Foreign Office under the Conservatives had filed an amicus brief supporting Jerusalem’s stance that the ICC has no right to examine whether Israelis had committed alleged war crimes.

Since the ICC had given the UK until July 12 to submit its documentation, and would then have to rule on the matter, this was effectively delaying the request by Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan for the court to issue arrest warrants against both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, as well as three leaders of Hamas.

Besides dealing with the ICC matter, new Foreign Secretary David Lammy has also said he would be investigating whether the government should renew funding to UNRWA, even though Israel has provided proof that the aid organization employs hundreds of terrorists in the Gaza Strip and provides safe havens for Hamas men and weaponry.

He has also promised to examine whether arms sales to Israel can be legally ended due to concerns over “international humanitarian law.”

The fresh Secretary of State for Justice, Shabana Mahmood, who is Muslim, has a history of anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian activism.

A decade ago, she urged people to support the BDS movement against Israel, forcing with other activists the temporary closure of a store because it sold “goods from illegal settlements.”

She has also marched in anti-Israel protests.

Much more recently, although she slammed Hamas’ surprise attack on Israel, calling them “atrocities…committed by terrorists,” she signed onto a bill in February demanding a ceasefire.

In a March letter to her constituents, 30% of whom are Muslim themselves, she accused Israel of killing civilians deliberately during the war.

“The conduct of this war has been intolerable, with a disproportionate level of attacks on innocent people that has rightly been the deliberations in international courts,” she wrote.

The new Attorney General, meanwhile, went on record just ten days after the October 7 Hamas massacre to oppose Israel’s war against the terrorists, on the basis of human rights concerns.

Richard Hermer, who is Jewish, wrote an open letter in the Financial Times with eight other Jewish lawyers slamming the surprise attack but adding that it was not too soon “to remind Israel of its international law obligations.”

“There are some aspects of Israel’s response that already cause significant concern,” they wrote, referring specifically to what they called “sieges of civilian populations” in Gaza.

That early in the war, all Israeli borders with Gaza were shut down, but the Rafah crossing at the Egyptian-Gaza border was open, and the IDF had yet to start its ground incursion into the Strip.

Hermer also came out against a proposed law last year to prevent local councils from deciding to boycott and divest from other countries, after several had proposed such moves.

He advised the Labour party that the bill would be “incompatible” with international human rights obligations and would “stifle free speech at home.”

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