With the future of Theresa May’s term as British prime minister in serious doubt, the Labour Party’s Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry shared her views about Israel, auguring an unpleasant change at 10 Downing Street.
In an interview with The Times of Israel, the woman who would be officially designated the next foreign minister if May’s government falls and Labour defeats the Conservatives in elections advocated unilateral recognition of “the state of Palestine.”
Currently on a four-day visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Thornberry had harsh words for Israel, saying that the current Israeli government “has lost its way,” and that it’s time to end the “occupation” and the “misery” of the Palestinians.
With that, she claimed to be a friend of Israel, not an enemy.
“We’re critical of the Israeli government. We’re very critical of the Israeli government. Jeremy [Corbyn, Labour chairman] would be extremely critical of the Israeli government. But guess what? A lot of Israelis are pretty critical of the Israeli government, too,” Thornberry said. “This is part of being friends. We can tell each other the truth. We think the Israeli government has lost its way.”
Regarding the stagnant peace process, she said: “Clearly we need to have some form of new momentum going, and obviously the recognition of a state is not sufficient in itself, but it can be part of state-building.
“We want to recognize a Palestinian state. We don’t want there to be any ifs or buts; we want to get on with it.”
Thornberry argued, though, that this would not be inconstant with current British foreign policy, which supports the two-state solution. The only difference between her and May on this is that May supports it eventually, while she thinks it should happen now.
While putting herself on the record against the BDS boycott of Israel, she said she would conduct a personal boycott:
“The occupied territories should not be occupied. It is illegal in international law. Therefore, in my view, I would not, if I was given a choice, buy goods from settlements, because I think it’s wrong,” she said. “And I don’t want to be encouraging the breach of international law. But equally, I want to support Israel. I would buy Israeli goods, positively.”
During her trip, the only Israeli official on her itinerary is Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi. She is also scheduled to visit Kibbutz Nir Oz and Israel’s border with Gaza and to receive a security briefing from the Israeli army.