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Corbyn critics undermining him by exploiting Israel row: McCluskey

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
General Secretary of Unite the Union, Len McCluskey (AFP photo)

Opponents of the UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn are using the ongoing row over Israel to undermine his leadership, a senior British politician and a Labour union leader says.

Unite the Union’s general secretary Len McCluskey, whose union is Labour's biggest donor, made the comments on Sunday, while characterizing the current criticisms directed at Corbyn as a “cynical attempt to manipulate anti-Semitism for political aims.”

McCluskey said he did not think a formal leadership challenge to Corbyn was on the way, adding that any MP “stupid enough to try” would have to “be accountable for their actions.”

The latest uproar against Labour flared up when the former mayor of London Ken Livingstone was suspended by Corbyn over denouncing Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people and arguing that Adolf Hitler, the former leader of Nazi Germany, was a supporter of Zionism.

Livingstone also drew heavy criticism for defending Naz Shah, a member of parliament who resigned this week after she was forced to apologize for backing calls for Israel to “relocate” to the United States.

As the controversy deepened on Friday, David Abrahams, a major party donor, called for Corbyn to resign, saying “Labour needs strong leadership.”

However, Corbyn said in a statement that he would propose a new code of conduct banning any forms of racism in his party.

“There is no place for anti-Semitism or any form of racism in the Labour Party, or anywhere in society,” he said.

Meanwhile, Dianne Abbott, the shadow international development secretary and also a close Corbyn ally, said party members had been “smeared.”

 In an interview on Sunday, she slammed Livingstone's remarks as "extremely offensive", but defended the party's handling of the row.

"It's something of a smear against ordinary members to say the party has a problem with anti-Semitism," she said.

Senior figures within Israeli politics have also hurled attacks at the party’s leaders.

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