Netanyahu criticises Corbyn over Munich wreath-laying
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Netanyahu criticises Corbyn over Munich wreath-laying

Israeli prime minister hits out against the leader of the opposition, saying it deserves 'unequivocal condemnation'

Benjamin Netanyahu's tweet criticising Jeremy Corbyn
Benjamin Netanyahu's tweet criticising Jeremy Corbyn

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has criticised Jeremy Corbyn over his presence at a ceremony where a wreath was laid in memory of Palestinians suspected of being behind the Munich Olympics massacre.

Mr Netanyahu accused the Labour leader of laying a wreath on the grave of one of those behind the 1972 atrocity in which 11 Israeli athletes were killed, during a controversial visit to the Palestinian Martyrs’ Cemetery in Tunisia in 2014.

He said the move deserved “unequivocal condemnation” from those on all sides of politics.

Mr Corbyn had earlier said he had been present when a wreath was laid to “those that were killed in Paris in 1992” but he did not “think” he was involved in laying it.

Labour said he attended the event to remember victims of a 1985 Israeli air strike on Palestinian Liberation Organisation offices in Tunis.

Israeli secret service Mossad was accused of killing terrorists behind the Olympics attack, including Atef Bseiso, a Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) intelligence chief, who was killed in the French capital in 1992.

Writing on Twitter, Mr Netanyahu said: “The laying of a wreath by Jeremy Corbyn on the graves of the terrorist who perpetrated the Munich massacre and his comparison ofIsrael to the Nazis deserves unequivocal condemnation from everyone – left, right and everything in between.”

However, Mr Corbyn later hit back, saying the prime minister’s claims were “false”.

He added: “What deserves unequivocal condemnation is the killing of over 160 Palestinian protesters in Gaza by Israeli forces since March, including dozens of children.”

The Labour leader faced calls to quit on Monday over his controversial visit to the cemetery four years ago.

The row erupted after The Daily Mail published pictures of the Labour leader holding a wreath in the cemetery, which it said were taken in front of a plaque honouring the founder of Black September.

The Palestinian terrorist group killed 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

Asked about the incident during a visit to Walsall on Monday Mr Corbyn said: “A wreath was indeed laid by some of those who attended conference to those that were killed in Paris in 1992.

“I was present when it was laid. I don’t think I was actually involved in it (laying it).

“I was there because I wanted to see a fitting memorial to everyone who has died in every terrorist incident everywhere because we have to end it.

“You cannot pursue peace by a cycle of violence. The only way you pursue peace is a cycle of dialogue.”

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

The widows of Israeli athletes murdered by terrorists said they were “extremely disturbed” by claims about the visit.

Jewish Labour MP Luciana Berger said: “Being ‘present’ is the same as being involved.

“When I attend a memorial, my presence alone, whether I lay a wreath or not, demonstrates my association & support.

“There can also never be a ‘fitting memorial’ for terrorists. Where is the apology?

“Being ‘present’ is the same as being involved. When I attend a memorial, my presence alone, whether I lay a wreath or not, demonstrates my association & support. There can also never be a ‘fitting memorial’ for terrorists. Where is the apology?”

A spokesman for Mr Corbyn reiterated that Mr Corbyn was paying his respects to the victims of a 1985 Israeli air strike on Palestinian Liberation Organisation offices in Tunis.

He added: “Jeremy did not lay any wreath at the graves of those alleged to have been linked to the Black September organisation or the 1972 Munich killings.

“He of course condemns that terrible attack, as he does the 1985 bombing.”

Mr Corbyn said last year he had spoken at the conference and “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”.

Writing in The Morning Star at the time of the visit, Mr Corbyn said that wreaths had been laid not only at the memorial, but also “on the graves of others killed by Mossad agents in Paris in 1991”.

The pictures emerged amid continuing controversy over Labour’s refusal to adopt in full an international definition of anti-Semitism, including a list of examples of anti-Semitic behaviour.

Labour launched a consultation with Jewish groups over the code, after protests that the version agreed by the party’s ruling National Executive Committee omits four examples relating to criticism of the state of Israel.

Three senior union leaders added their voices to calls from deputy leader Tom Watson for the full International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance text to be incorporated in its entirety into Labour’s new code of conduct on anti-Semitism.

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.

Mr Corbyn said the Labour’s version of code was the “most sophisticated” of any political party.

He told reporters: “The one example that we are discussing and consulting on is one that makes sure that you can discuss and debate the relations between Israel and Palestine, the future of the peace process and, yes, make criticisms of the actions of the Israeli government in the bombing of Gaza and other places.

“But you can never make those criticisms using anti-Semitic language or anti-Semitic intentions, and that is what we are absolutely clear on.”

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