The MP for Wigan Lisa Nandy has clarified Labour leader Keir Starmer’s comments on the Israel-Hamas conflict.
Nandy – the Shadow Minister for International Development – was pressed on the Labour leader’s view that Israel “does have the right” to cut off power and water in an “Israeli siege”, but only “within international law”.
BBC host Victoria Derbyshire questioned Nandy on this issue on the BBC’s flagship weekend political TV programme, Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg.
Derbyshire said it took Starmer nine days to issue a clarification, during which the Labour Muslim Network had asked for an apology.
Nandy responded: “We can’t apologise for holding a position that we’ve never held. Keir has been clear and consistent on this, as has David Lammy and as have I.
“That’s why he clarified when he was asked about it to make sure that people hear loud and clear from us that international law must be upheld.”
Labour's Lisa Nandy says Keir Starmer's comments about an Israeli "siege" on Gaza have been "clarified" as he was "answering the previous question"— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) October 22, 2023
"The problem is, it took him nine days to issue that clarification" says Victoria Derbyshire#BBCLauraK https://t.co/op75id66Sq pic.twitter.com/l8k83kK0f5
Nandy was also asked about the alienation some Muslim supporters have felt by Starmer’s original comments.
She said: “I completely understand why people in the Muslim community are in extraordinary amounts of pain right now and heard those words and felt very concerned.
“I’m glad that we’ve clarified that, I’m glad that we’ve been consistent about that. Keir, David Lammy and myself will continue to be consistent about that and I’m glad to be able to make that point.”
Starmer has also since changed his position on X, formerly Twitter.
He said: “I made it clear it is not and has never been my view that Israel had the right to cut off water, food, fuel or medicines. International law must be followed.”
This announcement came after a visit to the South Wales Islamic Centre, at which the Labour leader said he was “deeply moved” to hear the “pain and horror” caused by the suffering of civilians in Gaza.
I was questioned by members and I was deeply moved to hear their pain and horror at the suffering of civilians in Gaza.— Keir Starmer (@Keir_Starmer) October 23, 2023
I made clear it is not and has never been my view that Israel had the right to cut off water, food, fuel or medicines. International law must be followed.
Elsewhere in the interview with Victoria Derbyshire, the Shadow Minister for International Development also spoke on the issues with aid being delivered to Gaza.
Nandy said: “There was a humanitarian crisis in Gaza long before the appalling events of October the 7th and there is now a humanitarian emergency that is threatening to tip over into catastrophe.”
On Saturday, twenty trucks transferring humanitarian aid to Gaza were allowed through the Rafah border, the sole crossing point between Egypt and the Gaza Strip.
This support was described by the UN as a “drop in the ocean” of the amount that’s needed. Fuel remains a contentious issue in the conflict.
Nandy said: “There is no agreement on fuel and there are serious practical challenges to overcome in order to resolve that, particularly because if there is no fuel, the water cannot flow and the hospitals cannot power up.
“The problem with fuel is Israel is clearly very anxious about the prospect of Hamas getting their hands on the fuel and using it to launch rockets.
“But the UN and Egypt and others are trying to broker a solution to that that would ensure that that fuel stays safely in the hands of the United Nations and aid agencies and is used for the purposes it is intended.
She added: “I can’t stress the seriousness of this. There are currently incubators being turned off in hospitals for newborn babies because there isn’t sufficient fuel to be able to keep the power on and we’ve got to make sure that that is resolved in hours, not days.”
"Israel is clearly very anxious about Hamas getting their hands on [fuel] and using it to launch rockets"— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) October 22, 2023
Labour's Lisa Nandy says a solution is needed for restoring Gaza's fuel supply as newborn baby incubators "are being turned off"#BBCLauraK https://t.co/op75id66Sq pic.twitter.com/H1gwLG3JXY
Feature image by Taylor Brandon.