Labour MP Ian Austin has apologised to Israelis for “the offence and distress my party has caused the Jewish people” while on a visit to the country.
The Dudley North MP was attending the Knesset Conference of Parliamentary Friendship Groups when he apologised “to you, Mr President, to Members of the Knesset and the people of Israel”.
He said: “We have seen candidates denying the Holocaust and senior figures say Hitler supported Zionism, compare the actions of Israel with the crimes of the Nazis or single out the world’s only Jewish state for boycotts and sanctions.
“This is anti-Semitism pure and simple and I promise you we’re going to do all we can to rid our party of this poison.”
Austin was one of dozens of Labour MPs in Israel for the 2018 International Strategic Leadership Dialogue in Jerusalem, as part of a delegation organised by lobby group Labour Friends of Israel (LFI).
At the Dialogue Gala Dinner, LFI chair Joan Ryan said the pro-Israel MPs had “repeatedly challenged the effort by some in the Labour leadership to abandon our party’s long-standing opposition to BDS,” referring to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.
She added that it was “utterly unacceptable that the British government pays the salaries of Palestinian Authority civil servants and school teachers” because they were overseeing a curriculum that “encourages Palestinian children to sacrifice themselves to martyrdom”.