British Labour MP Kim Johnson on Wednesday apologized "unreservedly" for calling the Israeli government "fascist" at Prime Minister's Questions (PMQs) earlier in the day, the Jewish Chronicle reports.
Johnson used the descriptor towards the end of PMQs on Wednesday, and asked Prime Minister Rishi Sunak how he is "challenging" Israel on alleged human rights violations against Palestinian Arabs, while failing to mention the terror attacks on Israeli civilians just days ago.
Speaking towards the end of PMQs, Johnson asked, according to the Chronicle, “Since the election of the fascist Israeli government in the election last year, there has been an increase in human rights violations against Palestinian civilians, including children. So, can the prime minister tell us how he is challenging what Amnesty and other human rights organizations are referring to as ‘an apartheid state?’"
Sunak responded, “Well, Mr. Speaker, the honorable lady also failed to mention the horrific attacks on civilians inside Israel as well, and it’s important in this matter to remain calm and urge all sides to strive for peace, and that’s very much what I will do as prime minister and in the conversations that I’ve had with the Israeli prime minister.”
A Labour spokesperson slammed Johnson's comments as "completely unacceptable", and after a meeting with the Chief Whip following PMQs, Johnson apologized in the House of Commons and withdrew her assertion that Israel is an "apartheid state".
“I would like to apologize unreservedly for the intemperate language that I used during PMQs. I was wrong to use the term 'fascist' in relation to the Israeli government and understand why this was particularly insensitive given the history of the State of Israel,” she said in the House of Commons.
"And while there are far-right elements in the government, I recognize that the use of the term in this context was wrong. I would also like to apologize for the use of the term 'apartheid state'. While I was quoting accurately Amnesty's description, I recognize this is insensitive and I'd like to withdraw it," added Johnson.
Johnson is the Labour MP for Liverpool Riverside, and she succeeded Jewish MP Louise Ellman, who left the party in October 2019 citing allegations of antisemitism. She rejoined the party in 2021.
Johnson was elected to Parliament in December 2019, becoming Liverpool's first black MP. She is a member of Parliament's Socialist Campaign Group, and is a supporter of former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who was criticized heavily for his mishandling of antisemitism in the party, as well as over his own anti-Israel statements.
Corbyn, who infamously called Hezbollah and Hamas his “friends”, was suspended from Labour in 2020, following the publication of a report compiled by the Equality and Human Rights Commission which found numerous cases where the party leadership under Corbyn underplayed, belittled or ignored complaints by Jewish members, and sometimes actively interfered to support political allies.
He was reinstated by Labour after appearing to apologize for disparaging the report, but his successor as Labour leader, Keir Starmer, said he would deny Corbyn the party whip even after he was reinstated as a party member.
In November, Corbyn was permanently banned from running as a candidate for the Labour party.