Labour’s ruling body has agreed to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism in full after a tense meeting in which an accompanying clarification put forward by Jeremy Corbyn was not accepted.
The party leader withdrew his additional statement when it was clear it could not be agreed upon and instead, after a discussion that overran its allotted time by several hours, the national executive committee (NEC) approved the release of brief remarks emphasising freedom of expression on Israel and the rights of Palestinians.
All 11 examples accompanying the IHRA (International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance) definition were agreed by the NEC meeting at the party’s headquarters in central London, as the 40-strong party body attempted to end the long-running row about how to tackle alleged antisemitism within the party.
A party spokesperson said: “The NEC has today adopted all of the IHRA examples of antisemitism, in addition to the IHRA definition which Labour adopted in 2016, alongside a statement which ensures this will not in any way undermine freedom of expression on Israel or the rights of Palestinians.”
The spokesperson said Corbyn had made an additional statement to the meeting describing action being taken against antisemitism and expressing solidarity with the Jewish community and the importance of the protection of Palestinian rights.
Labour said Corbyn’s page-and-a-half long statement was welcomed by the NEC “as an important contribution” to the consultation on the subject, but sources added that the committee had refused to endorse it and it had to be withdrawn. A wide range of views were expressed after Corbyn had read it out.
The most controversial passage in the draft statement proposed by Corbyn said: “It cannot be considered racist to treat Israel like any other state or assess its conduct against the standards of international law. Nor should it be regarded as antisemitic to describe Israel, its policies or the circumstances around its foundation as racist because of their discriminatory impact, or to support another settlement of the Israel-Palestine conflict.”