Israel lobby funded a quarter of British MPs

Exclusive: Declassified is publishing the full list of British MPs who received funding from pro-Israel lobbyists.

5 June 2024
2H8G3MN Labour leader, Keir Starmer (2nd from left) walks to today's shadow cabinet meeting with some of his new appointees including David Lammy (far left) Shadow Foreign secretary, Yvette Cooper (3rd from left) shadow Home Secretary and Rachel Reeves (far right) shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer after yesterday's reshuffle. Picture date: Tuesday November 30, 2021.

David Lammy, Keir Starmer, Yvette Cooper and Rachel Reeves have all been funded by Israel lobbyists. (Photo: Stefan Rousseau / Alamy)

Some 180 of Britain’s 650 MPs in the last parliament accepted funding from pro-Israel lobby groups or individuals during their political career, Declassified can reveal.

That includes 130 Conservative MPs, 41 Labour MPs and three Liberal Democrats.

Three members of the DUP, two independents and Reform’s only MP complete the list.

The total value of the donations from pro-Israel groups, individuals, and Israeli state institutions amounts to over one million pounds.

Between them, the politicians made over 240 paid-for trips to Israel, at a cost of over half a million pounds. 

Some of those trips involved visits to the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and a small number were co-sponsored by groups which do not form part of the Israel lobby.

Remarkably, fifteen MPs have accepted funding to travel to Israel amid the Gaza genocide.

Huda Ammori, the co-founder of the direct action network Palestine Action, told Declassified: “Accepting funding from a lobby group on behalf of the perpetrators of a genocide should immediately bar anyone from standing as an MP. 

“To see how politicians continue to travel to Israel and engage with the genocide lobby explains why our government continues to defy international law by facilitating Israel’s war crimes”.

The full list of MPs can be accessed at the foot of this article. Around 47 of them are not standing for re-election.

No MPs from the Scottish National Party, Sinn Fein, Plaid Cymru, SDLP, Alba, Greens, Alliance or Workers Party received hospitality or funding from the lobby.

RELATED

Andrew Feinstein: Why I am Standing Against Keir Starmer

READ MORE 

Friends of Israel

One of the most significant funders is Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI), a parliamentary group which does not disclose its sources of funding.

Around 80 percent of Tory MPs are members of CFI. Over the past decade, it has taken more MPs on overseas trips than any other political donor in Britain.

Declassified recently revealed that CFI has funded 118 sitting Tory MPs to travel to Israel on 160 occasions, providing over £330,000 towards the visits.

The organisation also enjoys close access to Whitehall, and organises private briefings for ministers.

Labour Friends of Israel (LFI), another opaquely funded parliamentary group, counts some 75 MPs as supporters or officers. 

The organisation recently removed the list of its parliamentary backers from its website, but this can be viewed here.

LFI has paid for 32 of Labour’s sitting MPs to travel to Israel since they were first elected, contributing over £64,000 to the visits.

In Al Jazeera’s 2017 documentary, The Lobby, LFI’s Michael Rubin privately  acknowledged  the group’s ties to the state of Israel. 

“We do work really closely together,” he said. “It’s just publicly we just try to keep LFI as a separate identity to the [Israeli] embassy”.

David Mencer, a former director of LFI and David Lammy’s unsuccessful campaign to become London mayor, is now a spokesman for the Israeli government.

Further trips to Israel have been funded by the Liberal Democrats Friends of Israel and Northern Ireland Friends of Israel.

Many of these delegations are jointly funded by the Israeli foreign ministry, indicating a close level of cooperation with the Israeli state. Over 40 MPs have accepted funding from Israeli state institutions.

Other pro-Israel lobby organisations that have funded MPs’ trips to Israel include the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the Australia-Israel Cultural Exchange, Elnet UK, the Jewish National Fund and the National Jewish Assembly.

RELATED

Israel lobby funded a third of Conservative MPs

READ MORE 

Individual donors

Labour and Conservative MPs have also accepted funding from individuals that are directly associated with pro-Israel lobby organisations.

That includes Trevor Chinn, a long-time pro-Israel lobbyist who has financed eight members of Keir Starmer’s front bench, including his deputy Angela Rayner as well as shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves, shadow foreign secretary David Lammy and shadow health secretary Wes Streeting.

Chinn gave £50,000 to Starmer’s Labour leadership campaign. His donation was only disclosed after Starmer had won.

Gary Lubner, the Labour party’s new mega-donor, “is a pro-Israel businessperson whose firm profiteered from South African apartheid”, according to Electronic Intifada.

He donated £4.5m to the Labour party last year, of which £350,000 went to the offices of Lammy and Reeves as well as shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper and newcomer Keir Mather MP.

Other donors to Labour MPs include David Menton, a former director of Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre (BICOM), and Red Capital, a private company owned by former LFI chairman Jonathan Mendelsohn.

A number of individuals associated with CFI, such as Trevor Pears, Michael Lewis, David Meller and Lord Kalms have also donated to senior Conservative figures.

Not all MPs who have received funding from pro-Israel organisations or individuals have been uncritical of the Israeli government’s policies. Some MPs, moreover, have not accepted such funding for many years.

Hil Aked, author of the book Friends of Israel: The Backlash Against Palestine Solidarity, told Declassified: “These sizable donations may illustrate the Israel lobby’s ‘influence’ or merely that many British politicians have pro-Israel positions and are happy to take pro-Israel money. 

“Either way, it’s clear that much of the British political elite remains in bed with the Zionist movement even as Israel perpetrates an ongoing genocide against Palestinians in Gaza.

“Just as our government continues to arm Israel against the will of the British public, these groups’ close ties to the Israeli government and dire lack of transparency about their funding highlight the way Israel’s brutal settler-colonial violence also exposes our own democratic deficit”.

The full list can be viewed here and below: