Lawyers acting for a Palestinian Labour Party member have demanded to know why the party has hired an alleged former Israeli intelligence officer.
Assaf Kaplan was hired by Labour as a social listening and organising manager.
The complaint from Bindmans solicitors alleges that Kaplan worked for Unit 8200, the cyber branch of the Israeli Defence Force, from 2009 to 2013.
It adds that the unit has been mired in controversy over its surveillance practices against Palestinian civilians in the West Bank and Gaza.
In 2014, 43 veterans of Unit 8200 signed a public letter refusing to serve in operations involving the occupied Palestinian territories because it could be used for blackmail.
Bindmans, acting for Adnan Hmidan, say the party’s stance on illegal occupation of Palestinian territories should have precluded Kaplan’s employment, and they urged Labour to explain the decision.
Hmidan’s parents were born in Palestine and forcibly removed to Jordan.
His lawyers’ letter points out that successive Labour conferences have criticised Israeli annexation plans as a breach of international law, and that the occupation has led to mass violations of Palestinian rights.
His lawyers’ argue that either the party did know about Kaplan’s background, in which case it has shown a failure to consider the views of its Palestinian members, or it did not know and has failed to show due diligence.
Hmidan asked whether the party undertook any risk assessment and what personal data of party members Kaplan will be able to access in his role.
He said unless he receives satisfactory assurances he intends to refer the issue to the information commissioner and consider legal action on the basis of unfair and unlawful recruitment.
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