David Cameron and Jeremy Corbyn clash over Hamas and Hizbollah


David Cameron and Jeremy Corbyn have repeatedly clashed in the Commons over Labour’s antisemitism crisis and the Labour leader’s past comments on Hamas and Hizbollah.

The Prime Minister asked Mr Corbyn four times to withdraw his previous references to Hamas and Hizbollah as “friends”.

Mr Corbyn did not withdraw the comments but said “obviously” anyone engaged in antisemitic acts was not his friend.

Answering a question from a Conservative backbencher, Mr Cameron opened by saying it was important to “be clear about Hamas, they are a terrorist group intent on killing Jews and that’s why… combatting antisemitism in the Labour party will mean nothing until he [Mr Corbyn] withdraws the remark that they were his friends. He needs to do it and he should do it today.”

Mr Corbyn responded: “Later today commemorations begin for Holocaust Memorial Day in Israel. I hope there is agreement… in sending our best wishes to those commemorating the occasion and sending a very clear statement that antisemitism has no place in our society whatsoever and we all have a duty to oppose it.”

But the Prime Minister hit back by quoting Mr Corbyn’s comments made when the Labour leader described it as “an honour and a pleasure” to host a Parliamentary meeting where “our friends from Hizbollah will be attending”. Mr Cameron read out a section where Mr Corbyn also referred to “our friends from Hamas”.

Mr Cameron said: “Hamas and Hizbollah believe in killing Jews, not just in Israel but around the world. Will he take this opportunity – withdraw that they are your friends.”

Reading a prepared statement, Mr Corbyn said he had “made it very clear, Labour is an anti-racist party”.

He read out details of the Labour members suspended following antisemitism allegations and highlighted the inquiry he launched last week.

Mr Corbyn said the comments he made about Hamas and Hizbollah had come as he hosted a meeting in an attempt to promote the peace process.

“I absolutely do not approve of those organisations,” Mr Corbyn added.

When the Leader of the Opposition attempted to ask about social care and the elderly, Mr Cameron again pushed him on his links to the terror groups.

But Mr Cameron continued: “He referred to Hamas and Hizbollah as his ‘friends’. He needs to withdraw those remarks. Are they your friends or are they not?

"Those organisations – in their constitutions – believe in persecuting and killing Jews. They are antisemitic organisations. He must stand up and say they are not his friends.”

Mr Corbyn responded: “Obviously anyone who commits racist or antisemitic acts is not a friend of mine. It’s very clear about that.”

The Labour leader then turned the tables, challenging Mr Cameron on the “systematic smears” of Labour’s London mayor candidate Sadiq Khan.

Mr Cameron said there was a “pattern of behaviour” with Mr Khan, claiming the Tooting MP had shared a platform with an extremist who, he said, had “called for Jews to be drowned in the ocean”.

“If he wants to know why he has a problem with antisemitism, it is because his candidates share platform after platform after platform with extremists and antisemites and then excuse their remarks,” Mr Cameron shouted before again asking Mr Corbyn to withdraw his remarks about Hamas and Hizbollah being “friends”.

Mr Corbyn called on the Conservatives to set up an inquiry into racism in their own party.

Labour's attempts to challenge Jew-hatred would be "doomed to failure" because of links to extremists, Mr Cameron said.

Earlier Labour suspended two councillors over accusations of antisemitism.

The Guido Fawkes site said Newport Labour councillor Miqdad Al-Nuaimi had compared Israel to the Nazis, while Terry Kelly, a representative in Renfrewshire, allegedly launched a series of rants about "the Jewish lobby". Mr Kelly is also said to have compared Israels actions to the Holocaust.

Both have been suspended pending inquiries.

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive