Ian Austin MP criticises Jeremy Corbyn for Hezbollah ‘friends’ remark

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Ian Austin MP criticises Jeremy Corbyn for Hezbollah ‘friends’ remark

Labour politician calls out the party leader during a debate to potentially full proscribe Hezbollah in Britain

A Labour former minister has criticised Jeremy Corbyn for describing Hezbollah as friends.

Ian Austin also suggested Mr Corbyn had rejected repeated invitations from Labour’s sister party in Israel for meetings.

Dudley North MP Mr Austin told the Commons: “In 2009 at a meeting of the so-called Stop the War Coalition, which actually must be, I think, probably the worst or most inappropriately named organisation in British politics, the leader of the Labour Party said that he invited ‘friends from Hamas and Hezbollah to an event in Parliament’.

“Later, when asked why he had called them friends, he said ‘I use it in a collective way, saying our friends are prepared to talk’.

“And he said there is not going to be a peace process unless there is talks involving Israel, Hezbollah and Hamas.

“Firstly, who would describe a racist, vicious and terrorist organisation like Hezbollah as friends? Who would do that?

“I think social democrats, indeed all democrats, should always be crystal clear about describing totalitarian movements and governments, whether that’s Hezbollah or, for instance, the Iranian dictatorship which backs Hezbollah.”

He said statements by the Hezbollah leadership made it clear they had absolutely no interest in the peace process.

“Even if you set all that to one side, I don’t think the leadership of our party has shown the same interest in speaking to the Israelis,” added Mr Austin.

“Invitations to meet the leaders of Labour’s own sister party, who have repeatedly invited our leadership to visit Israel and talk to them about their plans – our leader, I should say – to visit Israel and talk to them about their plans to bring the conflict to an end, have not been accepted.”

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