Miliband Threatens to Sue Paper Over Claim He Criticized Israel

The claim was contained in a Jewish Telegraph interview with media mogul Richard Desmond, who said the former Labour leader made the comments during a conversation.

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Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband reacts to the results of the count of his seat in Doncaster, northern England, Britain, May 8, 2015. Credit: Reuters

Comments about Israel are at the center of a row between Ed Miliband, former leader of the British Labour Party, and the Jewish Telegraph, a local Jewish newspaper in the United Kingdom.

According to the Telegraph, Miliband threatened to sue the paper last Thursday night if it went ahead with publication of an article quoting "a verbal attack" the former Labour leader made against Israel.

The alleged attack was contained in an interview with Daily Express owner Richard Desmond, who alleged that Miliband had made the statement during a meeting between the two several months ago on Hampstead Heath, in north London.

A spokesman for Miliband warned the paper it would face legal action if the interview was published. “You should expect legal action and/or a complaint to the press watchdog if you go ahead with publication,” he reportedly said.

Desmond was revealed as one of the biggest donors to the right-wing U.K. Independence Party during the recent election campaign. He claimed that his conversation with Miliband took place without any other witnesses sometime between December and January.

“I was having a cup of tea when I bumped into Ed and asked him if it was true he had made all these comments about Israel,” he said. Miliband, according to Desmond, was “in such a rage. I couldn’t stop him – he was going berserk [about Israel’s actions].”

Miliband, who is Jewish has been critical of Israel in the past, particularly during Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014 when he openly condemned the actions that led to the deaths of over 2,000 Palestinians.

“This is an untrue account of a chance meeting," the spokesman said. "There was no rage or row. Ed did not use the language ascribed to him. He expressed views he has expressed in public many times before.”