Alexander, who visited Israel last December, reaffirmed his party’s commitment to a two-state solution and expressed “our absolute solidarity” with Israel in the wake of the bombing of a bus carrying tourists in Bulgaria in July. Israel blamed Hezbollah for the attack.
And weeks after William Hague said he would like to see the EU “designate and sanction the military wing”, Alexander told the gathering: “When in government, we proscribed the military wing of Hezbollah here in the UK. It is time that the military wing of Hezbollah is proscribed in the EU as well. We will support the government in that initiative.”
Alexander earlier used his keynote speech to conference delegates to reiterate Labour’s support for the upgrading of the Palestinians’ status at the UN, a year after his call for the British government to support a bid for recognition as a full member state provoked condemnation from Jewish community leaders. Britain said last year that it would abstain from any vote. While not mentioning any future bid for full statehood, Alexander added: “If I was foreign secretary, I would not sit on the fence. I would break that silence. I would use my voice and upgrade the representation of the Palestinians at the UN.”
Speaking to LFI, Miliband – who warned that the current impasse in the peace process is “bleak” – sought to explain the party’s stance on UN statehood, saying: “We have got to try and find a way of encouraging moderate voices that exist in the Palestinian community, to show that some progress can be made.” Saying people should have “no illusions about my commitment to the state of Israel”, he added: “We have deep, deep concerns about Iran’s nuclear ambitions. And that’s why we have taken the position we have about tough sanctions on Iran. We must find a peaceful way forward in relation to Iran’s nuclear ambitions but are under no illusions about the challenge.”
In an address described as “incredibly warm” by observers, he also said: “One of the pleasures of this job over the last two years has been getting to know [the Jewish] community better.”Addressing the same event, attended by MPs, peers and community figures including the Jewish Leadership Council, which is attending all three party conferences, Israeli ambassador Daniel Taub thanked the party for its “wholehearted” support for sanctions on Iran. He also had praise for Miliband’s personal main speech, during which he said he would “not be standing here today” if not for the “tolerance of this great country” where his parents found refuge after fleeing the Nazis.