‘As someone with Palestinian heritage, I couldn’t stay in the Labour Party’

As the United Kingdom gears up for a general election, trust in the ruling and main opposition parties among some communities is in sharp decline over their positions on Israel’s war on Gaza.

In recent local elections, the opposition Labour Party performed well compared with the Conservatives who have been in power for more than a decade. Leaders of both parties have regularly backed Israel, saying it has the right to defend itself.

But Labour votes dropped in areas of England with high Muslim populations.

The ITV broadcaster said that in areas with more than 70 percent Muslim representation, Labour lost 39 percentage points of the vote share.

Israel’s latest and deadliest war on Gaza, which has to date killed more than 35,000 Palestinians, began after Hamas, which governs the Strip, attacked southern Israel. During its assault, 1,139 people were killed and hundreds were taken captive.

Labour’s national election coordinator, Pat McFadden, told the BBC that party officials were working on regaining support from those who withheld their vote, saying the situation in Gaza was a “high foreign policy priority”.

But for many pro-Palestinian Britons who usually vote Labour, the promises sound hollow and have come too late.

Al Jazeera spoke to Kamel Hawwash, a British Palestinian professor of civil engineering and former head of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, who plans to run as an independent candidate in Birmingham Selly Oak. The constituency in the English midlands, home to a high number of Muslims, has long been held by Labour’s Steve McCabe.

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