Israel's Foreign Minister Says He Hopes Corbyn Loses British Election

Yisrael Katz says that he 'won't meddle in internal elections' but hopes 'the other side wins'

Opposition Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn campaigns outside Finnsbury Park station in north London on December 2, 2019.
AFP

Israel's foreign minister said on Thursday that he hopes Jeremy Corbyn loses next week's British election, citing allegations of anti-Semitism buffeting the Labour Party leader.

"I won't meddle in internal elections but I personally hope that he won't be elected, with this whole wave of anti-Semitism...I hope the other side wins," Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz told Israeli Army Radio.

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Asked whether Corbyn's election could impair cooperation between Israel and the United Kingdom, Katz answered that leaders don't "dismiss or harm the interests of their own country," adding however that Israel "will discuss things if they happen."

Labour Party spokesmen did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Katz's position reflects Israeli policy since Corbyn's rise to the head of Labor. Israeli officials have time and time again have criticized and expressed discomfort with his positions. Israel's Ministry of Strategic Affairs has even held discussions on whether or not to allow him into the country if elected, in accordance with the law banning those who support the boycott of Israel. 

Corbyn, a veteran campaigner for Palestinian rights, has been dogged by criticism from members, lawmakers and Jewish leaders that he has failed to tackle anti-Semitism in the party despite a promise to do so.  

The Labour leader has previously been criticized for calling Hezbollah and Hamas operatives "friends" and inviting them to visit the British Parliament in 2009, which Corbyn has said he regrets. He also said he "sincerely regret[s]" defending an artist who painted a mural criticized as anti-Semitic in 2012.

U.K. Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis published an article last week warning that the "soul of our nation is at stake" in the upcoming election, saying that the poison of anti-Semitism is "sanctioned from the top" of the Labour party. 

He added that the response of the party’s leadership as their supporters drove lawmakers, members and staff out of the party for challenging anti-Jewish racism had been “utterly inadequate” and claims the party was doing everything it could and had investigated every case were “mendacious fiction.”