Some 41 of Labour’s 197 sitting MPs have accepted money from the Israel lobby, Declassified has found.
The value of the donations amounts to over £280,000, with Israel lobby groups paying for Labour MPs to visit Israel on over 50 occasions since 1999.
The funders include parliamentary group Labour Friends of Israel (LFI), pro-Israel figures such as Trevor Chinn, and governmental bodies including the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Amid Israel’s genocide on Gaza, at least one Labour MP, Margaret Hodge, has continued to accept Israel lobby funds to travel to the country.
Labour Friends of Israel
LFI has described itself as a “Westminster based lobby group working with the British Labour Party to promote the State of Israel”.
The organisation does not disclose its sources of funding, but is closely associated with the Israeli state.
LFI currently counts 75 Labour MPs as parliamentary supporters or officers – a number which, remarkably, has risen since the onset of Israel’s war on Gaza.
One of LFI’s main activities is taking Labour MPs on “fact finding” missions to Israel.
The organisation has paid for 32 of Labour’s sitting MPs to travel to Israel since they were first elected to parliament, Declassified has found.
The value of these donations is over £64,000, with the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs often covering additional costs in Israel.
Fifteen Labour MPs have accepted financial assistance directly from the Israeli state for these and other visits.
In January 2024, LFI led a “solidarity mission” to Israel, which was attended by Labour MPs Christian Wakeford and Margaret Hodge, its spokesperson in the House of Lords Ruth Anderson (formerly Smeeth), and former MP Louise Ellman.
Hodge accepted £2,500 from LFI for the visit, while Wakeford’s register of interests is yet to be updated.
Hodge’s credentials for benefiting from an apartheid state are impeccable. During the 1970s and 1980s, she profited from her family’s business in apartheid South Africa.
She later claimed the dividends were given to charities, but could not recall which ones, and decided against selling her shares in the family company.
MPs’ trips to Israel have also been funded by the Australia-Israel Cultural Exchange (AICE) and ELNET UK, to the tune of over £10,000.
AICE was established in 2003 by the then Israeli foreign minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and his Australian counterpart.
ELNET was created in 2007 to “counter the widespread criticism of Israel in Europe”, and has since described South Africa’s war crimes case against Israel at the ICJ as “politically motivated and legally tenuous”.
The organisation’s British wing is currently directed by former Labour MP and LFI chair, Joan Ryan.
Labour’s sitting MPs have also accepted around £210,000 from individual pro-Israel lobbyists.
Eleven MPs have been funded by Trevor Chinn, a multi-millionaire business tycoon and long-time pro-Israel lobbyist. Eight of those MPs are currently in Keir Starmer’s shadow cabinet.
The value of Chinn’s donations to Labour MPs is £195,210, over one quarter of which was provided to Starmer during his leadership campaign in 2020. Starmer failed to declare this donation until after he had won the election.
Since the 1980s, Chinn has funded LFI and Conservative Friends of Israel and played a leading role in groups such as the British Israel Communications and Research Centre (BICOM) and the Jewish Leadership Council.
The Guardian described BICOM in 2009 as “Britain’s most active pro-Israel lobbying organisation – which flies journalists to Israel on fact-finding trips and organises access to senior government figures”.
Chinn’s father, Rosser Chinn, was the president of the Jewish National Fund (JNF) in Britain. The JNF is a quasi-governmental organisation which has supported illegal Israeli settlements in Palestine, and was described by historian Ilan Pappé as a “colonialist agency of ethnic cleansing”.
MPs who have visited Israel with Labour Friends of Israel (An asterisk denotes they have accepted financial assistance from the Israeli state):
- Chris Bryant*
- Alex Davies-Jones
- Liam Byrne
- Wayne David
- Barry Gardiner
- Lilian Greenwood*
- Andrew Gwynne*
- Fabian Hamilton
- Margaret Hodge
- Sharon Hodgson*
- Dan Jarvis
- Diana R. Johnson
- Kevan Jones*
- Barbara Keeley*
- Peter Kyle
- David Lammy
- Steve McCabe*
- Catherine McKinnell
- Pat McFadden*
- Stephen Morgan*
- Taiwo Owatemi
- John Spellar
- Steve Reed
- Rachel Reeves*
- Jonathan Reynolds*
- Wes Streeting
- Graham Stringer
- Gareth Thomas
- Emily Thornberry*
- Derek Twigg*
- Christian Wakeford*
- Rosie Winterton*