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Netanyahu, Corbyn clash amid Munich wreath-laying dispute

United Kingdom's Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn walks in the main market road during his visit to the Zaatari Syrian Refugee Camp, in Mafraq, Jordan, Friday, June 22, 2018.
AP Photo/Nasser Nasser

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday slammed UK’s Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn for his attendance at a memorial honoring the terrorists behind the 1972 Munich Olympic massacre after photographs surfaced days ago.

“The laying of a wreath by Jeremy Corbyn on the graves of the terrorist who perpetrated the Munich massacre and his comparison of Israel to the Nazis deserves unequivocal condemnation from everyone – left, right and everything in between,” the Prime Minister’s office wrote in a tweet.

In a quick fire response, Corbyn retorted: "Netanyahu’s claims about my actions and words are false. What deserves unequivocal condemnation is the killing of over 160 Palestinian protesters in Gaza by Israeli forces since March, including dozens of children.”

In a double-blow, Corbyn tweeted a second message slamming Israel for the nation state law which he said "discriminates against Israel's Palestinian minority." He added, "I stand with the tens of thousands of Arab and Jewish citizens of Israel demonstrating for equal rights at the weekend in Tel Aviv."

Israel has remained relatively mute on the endless allegations of anti-Semitism engulfing the UK Labour party and its embattled leader Corbyn.

In the latest of a string of incidents, on Saturday the Daily Mail published photographs showing Corbyn standing near the graves of members of Black September and the Palestine Liberation Organization’s former intelligence chief.

Corbyn -- already under fierce pressure from the Jewish community -- said that he was attending a ceremony to commemorate the deaths of Palestine Liberation Organization members in a 1986 Israeli air strike.

The top Palestinian organization had relocated there after being expelled from Lebanon.

But the Daily Mail said the photographs it published Saturday showed Corbyn standing near the graves of members of the Black September group and that he was 45 feet from the monument to those killed in the Israeli air strike.

Black September, a Palestinian terrorist organization, massacred 11 Israeli athletes who they abducted from the Munich Olympic Games in 1972.

The newspaper said the plaque that Corbyn is pictured near is dedicated to Black September founder Salah Khalaf, a top aide Fakhri al-Omari and Hayel Abdel-Hamid, a PLO security chief.

On Monday, Corbyn acknowledged that he had attended the memorial ceremony but denied his participation in the wreath-laying formality.

“A wreath was indeed laid by some of those who attended the conference for those who were killed in Paris in 1992,” Corbyn said in an interview with Sky News. “I was present when it was laid, I don’t think I was actually involved in it.”

“I was there because I wanted to see a fitting memorial to everyone who has died in every terrorist incident everywhere because we have to end it,” he said. “You cannot pursue peace by a cycle of violence. The only way to pursue peace is a cycle of dialog.”

Defending its leader, the Labour party released a statement on Monday denying Corbyn’s presence at the ceremony contradicting his own admission of attendance.

"The Munich widows are being misled. Jeremy did not honor those responsible for the Munich killings,” the statement read.

“He and other Parliamentarians went to the Palestinian cemetery in Tunisia to remember the victims of the 1985 Israeli bombing of the PLO headquarters, many of whom were civilians,” it added.

The presence of terrorists at the graveyard was first reported during last year’s election campaign. Corbyn himself wrote about the ceremony and his trip to Tunisia in Britain’s socialist Morning Star newspaper in October 2014.

British Home Secretary Sajid Javid called for Corbyn to be "dethroned as UK opposition leader" in response to the latest revelations.

Before becoming Labor leader in 2015 strongly identified with the Palestinian cause and attended events, wrote articles and made speeches lambasting Israel. He has previously said he regrets calling Hamas and Hezbollah “friends” during an event at London’s parliament.

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