Claims and controversy build in Corbyn wreath row

Paddy Lillis

Paddy Lillis

Home Secretary Sajid Javid earlier suggested that Corbyn should quit over the issue.

"It is reprehensible that the man who wishes to be our prime minister honored ruthless terrorists who committed an act described by the late King Hussein of Jordan as 'a savage crime against humanity, '" Goldstein was quoted as saying.

Labour has said Mr Corbyn had already made clear he was paying his respects to the victims of a 1985 Israeli airstrike on Palestinian Liberation Organisation offices in Tunis. "You can not pursue peace by a cycle of violence. Jeremy did not honour those responsible for the Munich killings".

On Monday, Corbyn acknowledged that he had attended the memorial ceremony but denied his participation in the wreath-laying formality.

Ankie Spitzer and Ilana Romano, whose husbands Andre and Yossef were among 11 athletes taken hostage and killed at the 1972 Munich Olympics, warned the Labour leader that he would be "judged by the company you keep".

But facing reporters today in Walsall, the Labour leader acknowledged for the first time that he had been present when a wreath-laying ceremony for the senior PLO figures buried in Tunis had taken place, but that he had not been involved. "The only way you pursue peace is a cycle of dialogue", Mr Corbyn added.

On Sunday, widows of Israeli athletes murdered by terrorists exclusively told Jewish News they were "extremely disturbed" by the reports. "When I attend a memorial, my presence alone, whether I lay a wreath or not, demonstrates my association and support".

Jewish Labour MP Luciana Berger has demanded that Corbyn apologize for his presence at the graves.

"Being "present" is the same as being involved. He of course condemns that bad attack, as he does the 1985 bombing".

Writing about that trip in October 2014 in the Morning Star, Corbyn recounted that wreaths were laid "to mark the 1985 bombing of the PLO HQ and on the graves of others killed by Mossad agents in Paris in 1991".

Corbyn was opposed to Labour adopting a definition of antisemitism which would make comparing current Israeli policy to that of Nazi Germany 'antisemitic.' The party's current stance on antisemitism includes the following statement: "Discourse about worldwide politics often employs metaphors drawn from examples of historic misconduct".

Corbyn said today controversial version of the worldwide definition of anti-Semitism agreed by Labour's ruling body was the "most sophisticated" of any political party.

Corbyn said past year he had spoken at the conference, adding: 'I laid a wreath to all those that had died in the air attack that took place on Tunis, on the headquarters of the Palestinian organisations there'.

But Mick Whelan, general secretary of train drivers' union Aslef, who sits on the NEC, said he voted for the code because it is an advance on the original document.

He added: "The nation state law sponsored by @Netanyahu's government discriminates against Israel's Palestinian minority".

Corbyn has been accused of failing to expel party members who express anti-Semitic views and has received personal criticism for past statements, including a 2010 speech in which he compared Israel's blockade of Gaza to Nazi Germany's sieges of Leningrad and Stalingrad during World War II.

He added: "But you can never make those criticisms with antisemitic language or antisemitic intentions".

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