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Israel’s Arab MPs back UK’s Corbyn amid anti-Semitism accusations

UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn visits Baqa'a, the largest Palestinian refugee camp in Jordan, on 23 June 2018

A group of Arab lawmakers in Israel on Sunday praised British Labour opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, whose party has been battling accusations of anti-Semitism for months, Reuters reports.

In a letter to Britain’s Guardian newspaper, Ahmad Tibi, a deputy speaker of Israel’s parliament, and three other members of the Joint Arab List party said Corbyn had a “longstanding solidarity with all oppressed peoples around the world, including his unflinching support for the Palestinian people.”

The letter begins by outlining the conditions that face Palestinian citizens of Israel:

Palestinian citizens of Israel have yet to experience a single day of equality, de jure or de facto – to say nothing of the millions of Palestinians under military occupation in the West Bank, under siege in the Gaza Strip, and the 6 million in exile abroad, prevented from returning to their homeland simply because they are not Jews. As part of the Palestinian people, this has been our lived experience of the Zionist movement since day one.

It goes on explain that the current Israeli government, led by Benjamin Netanyahu, has all but wrecked any prospect for peace, “Netanyahu government has made it abundantly clear that Palestinians will never have a state of their own, and that they will never be allowed equality inside Israel.”

The members of the Arab list go on to find fault with the British political elites, who have sought to defame Corbyn with accusations of anti-semitism,

Incredibly, instead of taking that [Netanyahu] government to task for its unadulterated racism, the British political class ignores the Palestinian historical plight, and attacks and abuses the British and European leader who vocally supports the Palestinian cause of peace and equality…

As long as efforts to curb anti-Jewish sentiment in the UK are focused on combating the disparagement of Jews merely for their membership in a minority group, they have our full support. But when some try to force the Labour party into using as its litmus test a definition of antisemitism that goes far beyond anti-Jewish animus to include anti-Zionism, we must raise our voices and decry these efforts.

The letter concludes with a strong endorsement of Corbyn’s stance:

“We commend Jeremy Corbyn for his decades of public service to the British people, and for his longstanding solidarity with all oppressed peoples around the world, including his unflinching support for the Palestinian people.”

Since unexpectedly becoming Labour leader in 2015 after decades spent on the left-wing fringes of the party, Corbyn has repeatedly faced accusations of turning a blind eye to anti-Semitic comments in the party and among groups he supports.

Read: The full letter on Jewish Voice For Labour’s website

Corbyn has responded to protests by meeting Jewish community leaders, reassuring Jewish people they are welcome in the party. He has previously apologised for what he has described as “pockets” of anti-Semitism in his party.

Israel’s own Labour party suspended relations with Corbyn in April, accusing him of sanctioning anti-Semitism and showing hostility towards Israeli policies.

Some opinion polls put Labour ahead or level with Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservatives, meaning he is a potential British leader, although the next election is not due until 2022.

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