Israel ‘Very Troubled’ by Corbyn Run in British Election

Britain’s opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn gestures outside a polling station after voting in the general election in London, Thursday. REUTERS/Lisi Niesner

Israel voiced worry about Britain’s election on Thursday, describing the possible rise of the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn as a threat to bilateral ties and alarming for British Jews.

Corbyn, a veteran pro-Palestinian activist, has been buffeted by allegations of anti-Semitism in Labour, with British media quoting some of the country’s Jews as saying they would consider emigrating should he be elected.

“This (election) very much troubles us,” Deputy Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely told Ynet. “It is true that we as a country cannot say we support this or that candidate, but Corbyn is a real danger to Israel-Britain relations, and I know British Jewry are very worried about this possibility.”

Corbyn and Labour, Britain’s biggest opposition party, say they oppose anti-Semitism. They say the party is not institutionally anti-Semitic, that complaints relate to a small minority of members, and that the processes to deal with such allegations have now improved.

Corbyn has called for recognizing a Palestinian state and reviewing British arms exports to Israel, riling Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s government.

Israeli Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz said last week that he hoped Corbyn would lose the election to Boris Johnson, the Conservative prime minister. PM Netanyahu has not commented on the ballot as such, though he made clear in a recent interview that a Corbyn government could cast a pall over vital intelligence cooperation between the two countries.

“It must be understood that the things that Corbyn says, and the wind blowing through Labour today, is a wind of anti-Semitism. And this is a very grave matter,” Hotovely said.

“Jews will always have a place in the State of Israel. In other words, they do not have to feel endangered. But it is important to understand that this election is really a fateful election, and we really have to wait patiently here.”