Resignation letter from Councillor Suleman Khonat JP

Dear Sir Keir,

I have been a Labour Councillor for over 20 years and the Mayor of Blackburn with Darwen between 2022 and 2023. Supporting communities has always been at the forefront of everything I have done and continue to do.

I was attracted to the Labour Party because it was the party of the common man, the poor, the working class, asylum seekers, immigrants and those fleeing persecution from all around the world. It has been the party of social justice and speaking up for the oppressed, regardless of where they were in the world.

For this reason, I, like many, are appalled and disgusted by the comments you made during the LBC interview, that Israel had a right to cut off water, electricity and fuel to the innocent Palestinian civilians of Gaza.

As a human rights barrister, you know this amounts to collective punishment and is against International Law.

Your ‘clarification’ a few days ago was disingenuous and clearly only done because of the furore your words had created. You’ve had ample time to retract your words, immediately after the interview, but you chose not to.

In any case you are now calling for ‘humanitarian aid’ but you have not called for a ceasefire.


What is the point of humanitarian aid if you are going to continue to support the relentless bombing of the Palestinian civilians, to whom you are beginning to provide humanitarian aid to.

Are you advocating to keep these civilians alive a little longer, so they can be killed at a later date?

In your statement you talk about a ‘humanitarian emergency’ but there is no mention of what has caused this. The Palestinians of Gaza are not the victims of an earthquake or a natural disaster, they are being massacred by the relentless Israeli bombing campaign, which is fully supported by you.

Over 7,000 people were murdered, including 3,000 children – killed by being burnt alive and dismembered by Israeli bombs. Many others endure slow and painful deaths buried under the rubble. They are the lucky ones, since night after night many more mothers are having to endure the screams of their terrified and starving children, wondering if this will be their last day on this earth.

You are supporting the Genocide of the Palestinian people in Gaza, pure and simple.

You have repeatedly said, “I stand with Israel” and “Israel has the right to defend itself.” I have never heard you say, “I stand with Palestine” or “Palestinians have the right to defend themselves”.

Why is this?

Palestinians should have human rights too, an equal right to defend themselves, their children, their home and their land. However, your lack of support has left them with no rights, no voice and little to no chance of survival. Israelis lives matter; equally Palestinian lives should matter too.

Your stance is nothing but unashamed racism in the eyes of the world.

Your message is loud and clear, not only to the suffering Palestinians, but also the Arabs and the Muslims in the UK and around the world as well as all the decent people who abhor such naked racism.

The actions of Hamas in the mass killing of Israelis on 7th October 2023 was unequivocally appalling and the perpetrators should rightfully be brought to justice. However, supporting the genocide and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people is not justice, it is unbridled revenge on a targeted group of defenceless people.

I have raised my concerns in many conversations and meetings with the Deputy Party Leader, Angela Rayner and MP Kate Hollern. However under your leadership it is clear the party are not changing their stance and have disregarded the concerns raised from me and countless other councillors from the Labour party.

At this moment in time, the Labour Party is no longer showing consideration for innocent civilians in Gaza who have no links to Hamas.

Your lack of empathy speaks volumes, and your unwillingness to change your stance given the circumstances is unacceptable.

The Labour Party today is unrecognisable from the one I joined and have been proud to represent over the past two decades.

I thus cannot with all good conscience continue to represent the party and therefore after much soul searching and a heavy heart, I resign with immediate effect from the Labour Party.

I will continue to represent the good people of Shear Brow and Corporation Park Ward as an independent councillor.

Cllr Suleman Khonat JP (Former Mayor 2022/3) 28th October 2023

Councillor representing Shear Brow and Corporation Park ward.

October 28, 2023

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