Labour Friends of Israel

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Labour Friends of Israel
FormationOctober 1957 (1957-10)
PurposePromotes support for a strong bilateral relationship between Britain and Israel
Official language
Honorary President
Joan Ryan[1]
Parliamentary Chair
Steve McCabe
Lay Chair
Adrian Cohen
Jennifer Gerber
WebsiteOfficial website

Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) is a group in the Parliament of the United Kingdom that promotes support for a strong bilateral relationship between Britain and Israel, and seeks to strengthen ties between the British Labour Party and the Israeli Labor Party. LFI says it supports a two-state solution to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, with Israel recognised and secure within its borders, and the establishment of a viable Palestinian state.[2] As of July 2020, it comprises around one quarter of the Parliamentary Labour Party and one third of the Shadow Cabinet.[3]


LFI was founded at the 1957 Labour Party Conference.[4] Its membership is organised into local branches. Seeking to strengthen the bond between the Labour Party and the Israeli Labor Party, it organises meetings of senior figures in both the UK and Israel.


In 2003, LFI described itself as "a Westminster based lobby group working within the British Labour Party to promote the State of Israel".[5] It has been described as "less unquestioning in its support of the Israeli government than the Conservative Friends of Israel".[6] Between 2001 and 2009, LFI sponsored more than 60 MPs to visit Israel, more than any other group.[6]

In 2010, Jennifer Gerber, previously director of Progress and before that, special advisor to Andy Burnham, was appointed director.

In 2011, LFI adopted a new strategy of becoming a wider membership organisation and of operating under the slogan "Working Towards a Two-State Solution".

In 2011, John Woodcock was appointed chair,[7][8][9] followed in May 2013 by Dame Anne McGuire and,[10] in 2015, Joan Ryan.[11][12]

In 2014, Adrian Cohen, a corporate lawyer, the chair of the London Jewish Forum, a trustee of the Jewish Leadership Council and a deputy of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, was appointed Lay Chair.[13][14]

2016 onwards

With the ascent to the leadership of the Labour Party, in September 2015, of Jeremy Corbyn, who has a history of support for Palestinians, the relationship between the LFI and the party leadership deteriorated.

LFI had been depleted of Parliamentary supporters who had lost their seats at the 2015 general election. In 2016, LFI announced it had trebled its number of Parliamentary supporters, stating that 65 MPs had pledged to back the group, at a time when many MPs rebelled against the leadership of the party. LFI re-branded itself as "Labour Friends of Israel: For Israel, For Palestine, For Peace", created a Young LFI group, and stated it would support the Alliance for Middle East Peace’s international fund.[15][16]

In early 2017, Al Jazeera released a four-part documentary entitled The Lobby, which investigated aspects of the Israel lobby in the United Kingdom, particularly relating to the Labour Party.[17] A member of Israeli embassy staff, Shai Masot, was recorded "plotting" to take down British MPs who favour recognition of a Palestinian state; links to the Labour Friends of Israel were put under the spotlight, including a reference to the availability of £1m from the Israeli government.[18][19]

In March 2018, supporters of LFI, along with the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council, took part in a protest critical of the Corbyn leadership, stating that antisemitism was present in the Labour Party.

In February 2019, after having lost a vote of no confidence by her local constituency Labour Party,[20] Joan Ryan resigned from the Labour Party to join the recently formed The Independent Group but retained her position as Chair of LFI. She became Honorary President in August 2019 and Dame Louise Ellman succeeded her as Parliamentary Chair.[1] In October 2019, Ellman resigned from the Labour Party.[21] Neither stood for reelection in the 2019 general election. However, despite resigning from the Labour Party, they remained members of LFI.[22]

As of July 2020, around a quarter of the Parliamentary Labour Party and a third of the shadow cabinet were members of the group.[23] In September 2020, Jennifer Gerber stepped down as director and was replaced by Michael Rubin.[3] In September 2020, LFI doubled its number of vice-chairs to 11, with the addition of: Rosie Cooper, Chris Evans, Dame Diana Johnson, Peter Kyle, Conor McGinn and Catherine McKinnell.[24]

Related groups

The Yigal Allon Educational Trust, founded in 1985 by former Prime Minister Harold Wilson, Ian Mikardo MP, Lord Glenamara and others, has supported Labour Friends of Israel.[25][26][citation needed]

Parliamentary supporters of LFI

As of February 2022, the Officers, sitting MPs, Lords and former members who were supporters of LFI are set out below.[27]


Labour (unless otherwise stated)

Sitting MPs

Labour (unless otherwise stated)

Sitting Lords

Labour (unless otherwise stated)

Former members

See also


  1. ^ a b Harpin, Lee (7 August 2019). "Dame Louise Ellman becomes new Labour Friends of Israel chair". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 7 August 2019.
  2. ^ Oborne, Peter and Jones, James (16 November 2009). "Friends in high places". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 January 2010.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  3. ^ a b Judah, Jacob (29 July 2020). "Labour Friends of Israel director to step down in September". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 2 September 2020.
  4. ^ a b Labour Friends of Israel (8 December 2008). "Labour Friends of Israel – 50 Years". Archived from the original on 10 January 2008. Retrieved 18 December 2007.
  5. ^ "Labour Friends Of Israel website – about us". 1 August 2003. Archived from the original on 1 August 2003. Retrieved 10 December 2008.
  6. ^ a b Black, Ian (16 November 2009). "Pro-Israel lobby group bankrolling Tories, film claims". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 November 2009.
  7. ^ Dysch, Marcus (7 September 2010). "New strategy for Labour Friends of Israel". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 13 October 2011.
  8. ^ Bright, Martin (13 January 2011). "Israel friends change tack and relaunch". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 13 October 2011.
  9. ^ Dysch, Marcus (19 October 2011). "Labour Friends go to Israel". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 13 October 2011.
  10. ^ a b "Stirling MP Anne McGuire to chair Labour Friends of Israel". The Jewish Chronicle. 9 May 2013. Retrieved 24 June 2013.
  11. ^ Marcus Dysch (10 August 2015). "Don't vote for Jeremy Corbyn, urges new Labour Friends of Israel chair Joan Ryan". Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 1 May 2016.
  12. ^ Harpin, Lee (7 August 2019). "Dame Louise Ellman becomes new Labour Friends of Israel chair". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 7 August 2019.
  13. ^ Rocker, Simon (19 June 2014). "Miliband warms the hearts of the Labour Friends". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 18 October 2019.
  14. ^ "Adrian Cohen". Jewish Leadership Council. Retrieved 25 September 2019.
  15. ^ "U.K Labour Party pro-Israel Group Triples Support Ahead of Relaunch". Haaretz. 22 September 2016. Retrieved 31 January 2019.
  16. ^ Dysch, Marcus (22 September 2016). "MPs flock to support Labour Israel group". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 12 August 2018.
  17. ^ "The Lobby". Al Jazeera. January 2017. Retrieved 1 May 2018.
  18. ^ MacAskill, Ewen (8 January 2017). "Israeli diplomat who plotted against MPs also set up political groups". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 May 2018.
  19. ^ Cohen, Justin (21 March 2017). "Labour dismiss complaint against Joan Ryan MP over Al Jazeera series". Jewish News. Retrieved 1 May 2018.
  20. ^ "Labour's Joan Ryan and Gavin Shuker lose no-confidence votes". BBC News. 7 September 2018. Retrieved 21 April 2020.
  21. ^ "MP Louise Ellman quits Labour Party". BBC News. 17 October 2019. Retrieved 5 December 2022.
  22. ^ a b "LFI Supporters in Parliament". Labour Friends of Israel. 18 October 2019.
  23. ^ "Labour frontbench MPs join Labour Friends of Israel as new vice-chairs". Labour List. 9 September 2020.
  24. ^ "Labour Friends of Israel doubles number of vice-chairs to 11". Jewish News. 9 September 2020. Retrieved 20 September 2020.
  25. ^ "Yigal Allon Educational Trust". Stone Ashdown Trust. Archived from the original on 9 November 2009. Retrieved 17 November 2009.
  26. ^ &subId=0 "Yigal Allon Educational Trust, registered charity no. 327009". Charity Commission for England and Wales. {{cite web}}: Check |url= value (help)
  27. ^ "LFI Parliamentary Supporters". Labour Friends of Israel. Retrieved 14 February 2022.
  28. ^ Symons, Leon; et al. "David Abrahams gave in secret 'to quell conspiracy fears'". The Jewish Chronicle. Archived from the original on 9 December 2007.
  29. ^ "Who We Are". Labour Friends of Israel. Archived from the original on 27 July 2008.
  30. ^ Bell, Stuart (30 January 2008). "Sir Stuart Bell MP, Biography". Archived from the original on 30 January 2008.
  31. ^ Bartlett, David (5 February 2010). "Royle Family star Ricky Tomlinson could run for parliament in Liverpool". Liverpool Echo. Retrieved 7 February 2010.
  32. ^ a b Uni, Assaf (10 December 2007). "Finance scandal has local community worried". Haaretz.
  33. ^ a b Temko, Ned (2 December 2007). "Behind-the-scenes group's unerring knack of backing the right man". The Observer. ISSN 0029-7712.
  34. ^ Brown, Gordon (25 September 2007). "Speech by Gordon Brown to the LFI Annual Reception". Labour Friends of Israel. Archived from the original on 19 December 2007.
  35. ^ Wright, Oliver (10 October 2010). "Anger grows within Labour over forced Palestinian vote". The Independent. Retrieved 23 February 2015.
  36. ^ H. M. Cabinet Office (2003). "Speaker Biographies, Ivan Lewis MP".
  37. ^ Dysch, Marcus (25 February 2015). "Labour MP Michael McCann calls for total Hamas ban". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 26 February 2015.
  38. ^ Hope, Christopher (9 February 2007). "Jon Mendelsohn profile: a real Mr Fix-It". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 7 January 2019.
  39. ^ Mulholland, Hélène (3 October 2008). "Government reshuffle: Profile: Jim Murphy". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077.
  40. ^ Purnell, James (12 December 2002). "Five days in Israel". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077.
  41. ^ Kite, Melissa and Hennessy, Patrick (5 January 2005). "David Blunkett to return to the Cabinet in major reshuffle". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 23 November 2007.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  42. ^ Dysch, Marcus (5 July 2011). "Labour Friends of Israel name new chair". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 21 October 2011.

External links