Less than two weeks since the London terror attacks, the city's Mayor Ken Livingstone has sparked controversy by defending the use of suicide bombers in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and charging that Israel had indiscriminately slaughtered Palestinians in acts that "border on crimes against humanity."
"Given that the Palestinians don't have jet planes, don't have tanks, they only have their bodies to use as weapons," Livingstone told Sky News in an interview.
"In an unfair balance, that's what people use," said Livingstone, who has often been strongly critical of Israel in the past.
On July 7, more than 50 people died in four London bombings believed to have been carried out by suicide terrorists.
At the time, Livingstone was uncompromising in his condemnation of the terror acts.
Livingstone said that Israel has "done horrendous things which border on crimes against humanity the way they have indiscriminately slaughtered men, women and children in the West Bank and Gaza for decades."
Livingstone also said that he does not distinguish between members of Likud and Hamas, branding them "two sides of the same coin."
"I think it is the Israelis who are leading the stubborn line," said Livingstone. "The Likud and Hamas members are two sides of the same coin. They need each other in order to attract support."
"Each side emphasizes the extremism of the other in order to attract sympathy," Livingstone said.
Livingstone agreed to the interview in the wake of the media frenzy surrounding the possible visit of controversial Muslim cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who has voiced support for Palestinian suicide bombers and has been banned from entering the United States.
Livingstone denied that Qaradawi will visit London,.
"I believe it is forbidden to take human life," Livingstone said. "I will welcome and meet with senior members of the Israeli government if they come here because they serve their country's government even though I believe they have done terrible things bordering on crimes against humanity."
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