JERUSALEM (Reuters) - A group of Arab lawmakers in Israel on Sunday praised British Labour opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, whose party has been battling accusations of anti-Semitism for months.
In a letter to Britain’s Guardian newspaper, Ahmad Tibi, a deputy speaker of Israel’s parliament, and three other members of the Joint Arab List party said Corbyn had a “longstanding solidarity with all oppressed peoples around the world, including his unflinching support for the Palestinian people.”
Since unexpectedly becoming Labour leader in 2015 after decades spent on the left-wing fringes of the party, Corbyn has repeatedly faced accusations of turning a blind eye to anti-Semitic comments in the party and among groups he supports.
Corbyn has responded to protests by meeting Jewish community leaders, reassuring Jewish people they are welcome in the party. He has previously apologised for what he has described as “pockets” of anti-Semitism in his party.
Israel’s own Labour party suspended relations with Corbyn in April, accusing him of sanctioning anti-Semitism and showing hostility towards Israeli policies.
In their letter, the Arab members of Israel’s parliament said they recognise Corbyn as “a principled leftist leader who aspires for peace and justice and is opposed to all forms of racism, whether directed at Jews, Palestinians, or any other group.”
Some opinion polls put Labour ahead or level with Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservatives, meaning he is a potential British leader, although the next election is not due until 2022.
Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch. Editing by Jane Merriman