Britain’s Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn has refused to give in to calls from Israeli officials and British Jewish figures to denounce Islamic resistance movements Hamas and Hezbollah, vowing to continue talking to the two groups.
The leader of the opposition has come under pressure from a number of Labour lawmakers, Israeli Ambassador to London Mark Regev and Jewish leaders in the UK to distance himself from Labour politicians’ recent remarks condemning Israeli crimes against Palestinians, as well as groups fighting against the Tel Aviv regime’s occupation of the Palestinian lands.
Labour MP Naz Shah resigned as an aide to the party’s shadow chancellor last week after being forced to apologize for backing calls for Israel to “relocate” to the United States.
Also last week, the Labour Party suspended former London Mayor Ken Livingston after he defended Naz Shah in BBC interview and criticized the British media for ignoring Israeli war crimes against the Palestinian people. Livingston also said that Nazi leader Adolf Hitler had been a Zionist early in his political career.
Following these developments, Israeli figures accused the Labour Party leader of being soft on “anti-Semitism” in the party, which was forced to launch an inquiry into how to tackle the issue.
On Monday, Israel’s opposition leader Tzipi Livni said that Britain should condemn “anti-Semitism for the sake of its own core values.”
Israeli Ambassador Regev called on Corbyn to denounce Hamas and Hezbollah and pay a visit to Tel Aviv to build bridges.
Regev referred to Corbyn’s earlier support for the Islamic resistance movements, which were labeled as terrorist organizations by Britain.
A number of British Jews also urged Corbyn to display clarity about having relations with the two groups.
In response to the ongoing calls to reject Hamas and Hezbollah, Corbyn’s spokesman issued a statement on Sunday, saying, "Jeremy Corbyn has been a longstanding supporter of Palestinian rights and the pursuit of peace and justice in the Middle East through dialogue and negotiation.”
"He has met many people with whom he profoundly disagrees in order to promote peace and reconciliation processes, including in South Africa, Latin American, Ireland and the Middle East,” the statement added, noting that it is essential to talk to people “with whom he profoundly disagrees in order to promote peace and reconciliation processes, including in South Africa, Latin American, Ireland and the Middle East.”
"Simply talking to people who agree with you won’t help achieve justice or peace," it added.
Corbyn has in the past called for the participation of Hamas and Hezbollah for a settlement of the conflict in the Middle East and highlighted the role of Iran in the regional issues. He has also referred to the two movements as “friends.”