Israeli Labour party breaks off relations with Britain's Corbyn

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel’s Labour Party said on Tuesday it had suspended relations with Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of Britain’s Labour party, accusing him of sanctioning anti-Semitism and showing hostility towards Israeli policies.

Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of Britain's Labour Party, speaks at the launch of their local election campaign, in London, April 9, 2018. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

Corbyn, who unexpectedly became party head in 2015, is a supporter of Palestinian rights and a critic of Israel. He has repeatedly faced accusations of turning a blind eye to anti-Semitic comments in the party and among groups he supports.

“It is my responsibility to acknowledge the hostility you have shown to the Jewish community and the anti-Semitic statements and actions you have allowed as leader of the Labour party UK,” Israeli Labour Party leader Avi Gabbay wrote in a letter to Corbyn, distributed to the media.

Last month, British Jewish groups held a street protest outside parliament, accusing Corbyn of failing to tackle anti-Semitism in party ranks because of a far-left world view hostile to Jews.

Corbyn has said he recognizes that anti-Semitism has surfaced within his party. He has apologized for the pain this has caused and pledged to redouble his efforts to stamp it out.

“Jeremy has pledged to be a militant opponent of anti-Semitism,” a spokeswoman said on Tuesday.

“He has repeatedly emphasized the central role of the Jewish community in the Labour Party and the importance of ensuring it is a supportive and welcoming environment for all communities.”

Gabbay had said in his letter that Israel was reminded of the horrors of anti-Semitism in Europe as it approached Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day this week.

“As such, I write to inform you of the temporary suspension of all formal relations between the Israel Labour party and the leader of the Labour Party UK,” he said.

Gabbay said Corbyn had shown “very public hatred” towards Israeli government policies, including those where the opposition and the ruling coalition are aligned.

Israeli Labour is part of the “Zionist Union” faction in Israel’s Knesset, which controls 24 of the legislature’s 120 seats.

Writing by Ori Lewis; additional reporting by Paul Sandle in London; Editing by Jeffrey Heller and Larry King