Labour MP apologises 'unreservedly' for calling Israeli government 'fascist'

Kim Johnson urged Rishi Sunak to condemn the actions of the Israeli government without mentioning Palestinian terror


Labour MP Kim Johnson has apologised "unreservedly" for calling the Israeli government "fascist" at Prime Ministers Questions (PMQs) earlier today.

Ms Johnson used the descriptor towards the end of PMQs on Wednesday, and asked the prime minister how he is "challenging" Israel on alleged human rights violations against Palestinians while failing to mention the terror attacks on Israeli civilians just days ago.

A Labour spokesperson slammed Ms Johnson's comments as "completely unacceptable", and after a meeting with the Chief Whip following PMQs, Ms Johnson apologised in the House of Commons and withdrew her assertion that Israel is an "apartheid state".

Speaking towards the end of PMQs today, Kim Johnson MP asked: “Since the election of the fascist Israeli government in the election last year, there has been an increase in human rights violations against Palestinian civilians, including children. So, can the prime minister tell us how he is challenging what Amnesty and other human rights organisations are referring to as ‘an apartheid state’?"

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak responded: “Well, Mr Speaker, the honourable lady also failed to mention the horrific attacks on civilians inside Israel as well, and it’s important in this matter to remain calm and urge all sides to strive for peace, and that’s very much what I will do as prime minister and in the conversations that I’ve had with the Israeli prime minister.”

On Friday, seven Israelis were killed outside a Jerusalem synagogue after a gunman opened fire. A 14-year-old boy and a married couple who ran to help the victims of the attack were among those killed.

In response to the comments, a Labour Party spokesperson said: "Kim Johnson's words were completely unacceptable.

"Labour sees the relationship with Israel as an important one, and Keir is committed to strengthening that."

Shortly after 2:30pm, Ms Johnson raised a point of order in the House of Commons and apologised for her comments, saying: “I would like to apologise unreservedly for the intemperate language that I used during PMQs. I was wrong to use the term 'fascist' in relation to the Israeli government and understand why this was particularly insensitive given the history of the State of Israel.

"And while there are far-right elements in the government, I recognise that the use of the term in this context was wrong. I would also like to apologise for the use of the term 'apartheid state'. While I was quoting accurately Amnesty's description, I recognise this is insensitive and I'd like to withdraw it." 

Ms Johnson is the Labour MP for Liverpool Riverside, and she succeeded Jewish MP Louise Ellman, who left the party in October 2019 citing allegations of antisemitism. She rejoined the party in 2021.

Ms Johnson was elected to Parliament in December 2019, becoming Liverpool's first black MP. She is a member of Parliament's Socialist Campaign Group, and is a supporter of Jeremy Corbyn, welcoming the party's decision to reinstate his membership in November 2020 (although he still does not have the Labour whip).

She sparked controversy in July 2021 by claiming that her predecessor Dame Louise Ellman "was not forced out" of the party by antisemitism, which Ms Ellman described as "gaslighting".

Ms Johnson later said that it was never her intention to negate Dame Louise's experience.

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