Britain’s Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn on Sunday night rejected calls from Jewish leaders to denounce the Hamas and Hezbollah terrorist organizations, vowing to continue talking to them, reports The Telegraph.
“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,” the Labour leader’s spokesman said in a statement quoted by the newspaper.
“He has met many people with whom he profoundly disagrees in order to promote peace and reconciliation processes, including in South Africa, Latin America, Ireland and the Middle East,” added the statement.
"He believes it is essential to speak to people with whom there is disagreement, particularly when they have large-scale support or democratic mandates. Simply talking to people who agree with you won’t help achieve justice or peace," added the spokesman.
Corbyn has in the past stirred up controversy by calling Hamas and Hezbollah his "friends", and British Jews have voiced deep concern over his disturbing links to a wide range of extremists, spanning far-right holocaust deniers, an anti-Semitic Christian minister and Islamist terrorist groups.
His refusal to condemn Hezbollah and Hamas is just the latest in a series of controversies involving the Labour party and its problem with anti-Semitism.
Last week, Naz Shah, a Labour MP representing Bradford West, was suspended following revelations that she had previously called for Jews to be removed en masse from Israel. Shah also made comments comparing the Jewish state to Nazi Germany.
Corbyn initially refused to issue any punitive actions against Shah, and party officials reportedly whitewashed an apology written by Shah, excising all references to anti-Semitism.
Also last week, former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone was suspended from Labour after he defended Shah by claiming that Adolf Hitler had also suggested deporting Jews to Israel, and "was supporting Zionism before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews."
Meanwhile on Sunday, Israeli Ambassador to Britain Mark Regev called on Corbyn to denounce anti-Semitic organizations and to visit Israel in an attempt to build bridges.
"You’ve had too many people on the progressive side of politics who have embraced Hamas and Hezbollah,” Regev said, according to The Telegraph.
"Both of them are anti-Semitic organizations, you just have to read Hamas’ charter and it’s like chapters straight out of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” he continued.
"I’d ask the following question: if you’re progressive, you’re embracing an organization which is homophobic, which is misogynistic, which is openly anti-Semitic, what’s progressive about that?"