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Labour fully adopts international antisemitism definition but adds free-speech protection

Via SKY News

Labour has voted to fully adopt the international definition and examples of antisemitism but has been criticised for adding a free-speech clause, SKY News reported

Members of the party's National Executive Committee backed a change in its code of conduct to help it investigate, suspend and expel members accused of discrimination against Jewish people.

The vote marks a crucial moment in a row that has dominated Labour all summer, pitting MPs against each other and seeing serious allegations levelled at Jeremy Corbyn.

A spokesperson said the NEC had 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.

As the party adds a "clarification" on criticising Israel, the issue is still far from over, says Sky's Jon Craig

"The NEC welcomed Jeremy Corbyn's statement to the meeting about action against antisemitism, solidarity with the Jewish community and protection of Palestinian rights, as an important contribution to the consultation on Labour's code of conduct."

The president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews welcomed Labour's decision as the "right call" but said it was "very long overdue".

Marie van der Zyl said adopting the definition was only the beginning.

"We need to see firm action taken against antisemites and those who bring the party in to disrepute by denying the problem of antisemitism," she said.

"Labour must resolve the outstanding cases; introduce greater transparency to the disciplinary process; tackle the culture of the problem of antisemitism and introduce education and training.

"In addition, Jeremy Corbyn needs to apologise for past antisemitic comments and affiliations."

Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) was one of the groups to condemn the freedom of expression clause.

Its director, Jennifer Gerber, said it was "unnecessary and totally undermines the other examples the party has supposedly just adopted".

Labour Against Antisemitism said the move "appears to be about protecting the freedom of racists to present vile views".

Conservative Party chairman Brandon Lewis claimed that adding "caveats" to the definition "exposes Jeremy Corbyn's continued unwillingness to take a firm stand against anti-Jewish racism".

The long-running row over antisemitism has seen backbencher Frank Field resign the whip, fellow senior MP Margaret Hodge threaten legal action and former chief rabbi Lord Sacks compare the Labour leader to Enoch Powell.

The dispute centred over calls for Labour to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance's (IHRA) examples of antisemitism word-for-word.