Cameron Hammers Corbyn Over anti-Semitism on Eve of U.K. Municipal Elections

Labor leader says that 'anti-Semitism has no place in our society whatsoever," but refuses to withdraw remarks that Hamas and Hezbollah were his 'friends.'

British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn campaigning ahead of Thursday's municipal elections.
Matt Dunham/AP

British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, under fire for alleged anti-Semitic remarks by members of his party, sent "a very clear statement that anti-Semitism has no place in our society whatsoever and we all have a duty to oppose it,” in parliament on Wednesday.

However, the opposition leader declined to respond to repeated demands by Prime Minister David Cameron that he withdraw previous remarks in which he called leading members of Hezbollah and Hamas his "friends."

The fiery exchanges between Cameron and Corbyn during Prime Minister's Questions in Parliament came on the eve of municipal elections throughout the United Kingdom on Thursday, according to the International Business Times.

"They are a terrorist group who believe in killing Jews and that's why whatever the Right Honorable gentleman says about combating anti-Semitism in the Labour Party will mean nothing until he withdraws the remark that they were his 'friends,'" Cameron declared. "He needs to do it and he should do it today."

Corbyn said he urged people to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day," which begins on Wednesday night.

He later added he would never be friends with anyone who commits racist acts and urged the Conservatives to "desist" from attempting to "smear" Muslim MP Sadiq Khan, his party's candidate for Mayor of London.

But Cameron "completely rejected" Corbyn's comments, arguing it was legitimate to raise concerns about Khan's decision to share speaking platforms with alleged extremists.

"If he wants to know why his party has a problem with anti-Semitism, it's because his candidates share platform after platform after platform with extremists and anti-Semites," the prime minister said.

Khan is tipped to win the London mayoralty for Labour, beating Conservative candidate Zac Goldsmith.

Meanwhile, the Guardian reported that Corbyn, Cameron and former London mayor Ken Livingstone will be called to give evidence to a parliamentary inquiry into anti-Semitism.

The House of Commons home affairs committee confirmed it would call the party leaders, as well as Livingstone, to give evidence after Labour launched an independent inquiry into allegations of anti-Semitism within the party.

The three are allowed to turn down the invitation to attend, but they are likely to come under pressure to submit to questioning.

The Labour inquiry was ordered by Corbyn after complaints that comments made by Livingstone and Facebook posts by Naz Shah, the Bradford West MP, were anti-Semitic.