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Jeremy Corbyn criticised by Labour group for demanding Palestinian 'right to return'

3 min read

Jeremy Corbyn has been criticised by Labour Friends of Israel after he called for Palestinians to have a "right to return" to their former homeland.

The Labour leader tweeted his support for the demand following a visit to a Palestinian refugee camp in Jordan.

His remarks are controversial because critics say allowing millions of Palestinians to return to the land they lost in the 1948 war would mean that Israel no longer had a Jewish majority.

That would, they claim, make it impossible to find a two-state solution to the decades-old conflict in the region.

In his tweet, Mr Corbyn said: "We must work for a real two state settlement to the Israel-Palestine conflict, which ends the occupation and siege of Gaza and makes the Palestinian right to return a reality."

Enfield North MP Joan Ryan, who is chair of LFI, called on Mr Corbyn to "urgently clarify" his remarks.

In a letter to her leader, she said: "As you are aware, the 'right to return' is highly contentious and cannot be reconciled with a two-state solution, as this would simply create two majority-Palestinian states.

"The claim of an intergenerational Palestinian right of return - in contradiction of the UN’s own 1951 Refugee Convention - to territory held by Israel between 1948-1967 would effectively turn Israel into a Palestinian state and destroy the Jewish people’s right to self-determination."

Ms Ryan also said the demand was supported by Hamas, who do not believe in Israel's right to exist.

She added: "I believe it is important that those in a position of leadership and responsibility exercise both caution and precision when addressing difficult and complex foreign policy issues, especially those which are soaked in a long and tragic history of war, violence and terrorism.

"I hope, therefore, that both you and the Shadow Foreign Secretary will immediately clarify what you understand by a 'right to return' and, in the future, ensure any language you use concerning it helps to advance, not hinder, the cause of peace, reconciliation and coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians."

A spokesperson for the Labour party said: "These rights are inalienable and guaranteed by UN Resolution 194 of 11 December 1948. How the right of return is implemented is a matter for the negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians."

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