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Last updated January 2021

The Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel

ABOUT LDFI

Liberal Democrat party policy on the Middle East

Officially recognise the independent state of Palestine, condemn violence on all sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and support Israel’s right to security. We remain committed to a negotiated peace settlement, which includes a two-state solution.’


2019 General Election Manifesto

The Liberal Friends of Israel was the first ‘Friends of Israel’ group formed in the British Parliament in the 1950s.

On the formation of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), a Friends of Israel Group was also established. This was then amalgamated with the Liberal Friends on the merger of the two parties to form the Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel (LDFI).

The LDFI advise Liberal Democrat parliamentarians, devolved politicians, candidates and party members on issues regarding Israel, the wider Middle East and matters of concern for the British Jewish community.

We provide opportunities for Liberal Democrat parliamentarians to meet and question visiting Israeli politicians, civil servants, and journalists. The LDFI also produce regular briefings on political and diplomatic news from Israel.

‘LDFI are a unique part of the Liberal Democrat family. For years they have regularly provided vital insight and trusted advice to numerous Liberal Democrat leaders on Israel, the Middle East and the UK Jewish community.’

Rt Hon Sir Ed Davey MP
Leader of the Liberal Democrats

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ISRAEL AND THE MIDDLE EAST:

Key facts and figures

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Zionism

Zionism is the name given to the national liberation movement of the Jewish people, calling for the restoration of sovereign Jewish life and Jewish self-determination in the land of Israel after 2000 years of exile and persecution.

LGBT rights in Israel

The only country in the Middle East that celebrates Pride Month is Israel, with Tel Aviv’s Pride Parade hosting over a quarter of a million people each year making it the largest pride parade in the whole of the Middle East and technically Asia

Israel’s vibrant democracy

  • All Israelis, Jewish, Arab and Christian enjoy freedom of speech and press, freedom of assembly and the right to petition government, and, most importantly, the freedom of religion.

  • Israel is the only country in the Middle East that provides full equality for women.

  • Israel holds free and fair elections, in which every Israeli citizen is allowed to vote. The only Arab citizens in the whole of the Middle East who get to elect the people who run their country in free and fair elections live in Israel.

  • The State of Israel operates a proportional representation system, which we as Liberal Democrats aspire to have.

’Yesh Atid is proud to be part of the family of centrist and liberal parties. The Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel, are a true friend of both the Jewish state and the principles of liberalism. We look forward to welcoming LDFI back to Israel soon and continuing to build on our excellent relationship with them.’

Ethel Hooven
Chief Executive of Yesh Atid

FACT CHECK

Israel and the Middle East

  • Does Israel want peace?

    Yes.

    Israel has repeatedly tried to make peace with its Arab neighbours based on the principle of ‘land for peace.’ The Zionist movement in Palestine accepted the ‘two-states for two peoples’ solution when it was rst proposed in 1937. Tragically, the Arabs rejected that solution. The Zionist movement in Palestine accepted the United Nations Partition Plan in 1947, which would have created a state of Israel and a state of Palestine. This was rejected by the Arabs.

    Since 1948, Israel has made peace with Jordan and with Egypt. Israel returned the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt in return for peace and recognition in 1979. Egyptian President Anwar Sadat came to Israel and was cheered when he said ‘No more war, no more bloodshed’. Israel and the Palestinians have held many peace negotiations since 1991, including the famous Oslo Accords, however none of them have led to a two-state solution.

  • Why doesn't Israel just leave the West Bank?

    It would be too risky to walk out of the West Bank without negotiated security guarantees.

    For many people all that matters is the occupation. That is understandable. The Palestinians have neither a vote nor a state of their own, nor the dignity that comes with having both. And in 2017 we marked the 50th anniversary of the occupation.

    The Palestinian people have a right to that state. The current situation is not sustainable, and the danger of a drift into a third intifada is ever-present. The stabbing intifada was the product not just of incitement – though the level of official and unofficial antisemitic incitement is disgraceful – but also of hopelessness and frustration at occupation, statelessness and humiliation.

    However, for Israel to ‘just get out’ of the West Bank without any security guarantees or a negotiated final status agreement would be to risk the very existence of the state of Israel. That is because the West Bank is the strategically critical high ground overlooking Israel’s narrow coastal plain where most of its population and industry, and its main international airport, are situated. A risky unilateral withdrawal from the high ground of the West Bank could be followed by a Hamas, or Jihadi takeover of the West Bank and its conversion into an Iranian-supplied missile base from which missiles could rain down on Israeli cities.

    These Israeli fears are not an ‘excuse’ as the extremists say. That is an example of ‘decontextualising to demonise’.

  • Does Israel occupy Gaza?

    No.

    In 2005, Israel withdrew unilaterally from the Gaza Strip and part of the northern West Bank, uprooting 8,000 Jewish settlers, many forcibly.

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‘ LDFI are an integral part of the UK Jewish community, acting as a crucial conduit between British Jews and the Liberal Democrats. We are always warmly welcomed at their memorable and packed-out events at Liberal Democrat conference.’

Marie van der Zyl
President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews

LDFI and the Jewish Community

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In addition to our Israel advocacy, LDFI are the link between the Liberal Democrats and the British Jewish community. We advise our parliamentarians, as well as regional and local politicians on their engagement with British Jewry. We host events and meetings for Liberal Democrats with the community, and brief them ahead of Jewish community hustings during elections.

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Briefings and Articles

Here are links to briefings and articles produced by LDFI and friends of ours on Israel and the Middle East.

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THE COMMITTEE

Hon. Chair
Gavin Stollar

Hon. Vice-Chair
Bernard Silver

Treasurer
Geoff Jacobs

Hon. President
Lord Monroe Palmer OBE

Hon. Vice-Presidents
Baroness Sarah Ludford
Lord Alan Beith
Lord David Alliance
Robert Laurence

Hon. Committee Members
Lady Susette Palmer
Anne Diamond
Ishvinder Matharu
Jodi Myers
Cllr Jo Humphreys
Cllr Gabriel Rozenberg

Parliamentary & Communications Manager
Toby Davis

'The Lib Dem Friends of Israel play a crucial role in facilitating engagement between the Jewish community and the Liberal Democrats. Their work is incredibly valuable and we look forward to continuing to work with them.'

Jonathan Goldstein
Chair of the Jewish Leadership Council

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