Leader of the British Labor party, Jeremy Corbyn, has renounced his statements in which he expressed support for Hamas and Hezbollah. Corbyn, known as one of the more vociferous critics of Israel in British politics, apologized for his controversial statements made in 2009 in Parliament when he described the terror organizations as “friends.”
His apology comes amid widespread concerns that anti-Semitism has permeated the party. “The language I used at that meeting was actually here in Parliament and it was about encouraging the meeting to go ahead, encouraging there to be a discussion about the peace process,” he said on Monday.
Asked whether he still considered Hamas and Hezbollah to be his friends, Corbyn said, “No. It was inclusive language I used which with hindsight I would rather not have used. I regret using those words, of course.”
During the conversation about anti-Semitism, Corbyn also criticized the comments made in April by the former London Mayor, Ken Livingstone who claimed that Adolf Hitler supported Zionism. “Ken Livingstone made remarks that are wholly unacceptable and wrong,” Corbyn said.
The Labor leader found himself entangled in yet another political crisis last week after he drew comparisons between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government and ISIS.
“Our Jewish friends are no more responsible for the actions of Israel or the Netanyahu government than our Muslim friends are for those of various self-styled Islamic states or organizations," the opposition leader said as he announced the results of a report investigating accusations of anti-Semitism within the Labour Party.
Corbyn himself rushed to clarify his remarks. Asked if he was really drawing comparisons between Israel and ISIS, he responded: “No. Of course not. In the report it says that you shouldn’t say to somebody just because you’re Jewish you must have an opinion on Israel, just as much as you shouldn’t say to a Muslim that you must have an opinion on ISIS,” Mr Corbyn added.
Shortly after Corbyn’s statements, MP Naz Shah was reinstated into the Labor party having been suspended for writing anti-Semitic comments on her social media page and for expressing support for a proposal to relocate the State of Israel to US territory, thus supposedly solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Shah later apologized for causing upset to the Jewish community but failed to repudiate the fundamental premise of her comment. “I accept and understand that the words I used caused upset and hurt to the Jewish community and I deeply regret that. I truly regret what I did,” she said during a parliamentary session.