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WATCH: Jeremy Corbyn says Israel pressured BBC into saying it had a ‘right to exist’

Liz Bates

3 min read

Jeremy Corbyn has been urged to "set the record straight" after a video emerged in which he appeared to cast doubt on Israel's right to exist.

His comments came in an interview carried out in 2011 in which the Labour leader suggested Israel was exerting influence over the BBC’s news coverage.

Speaking on Press TV, the Iranian state television channel, Mr Corbyn said the then BBC director general Mark Thompson was under pressure from Israeli officials.

Among the examples of apparent BBC bias listed by the Islington North MP is "that Israel has a right to exist".

He said: "There is pressure on the BBC from probably Mark Thompson, who seems to me to have an agenda in this respect.

"There seems to be a great deal of pressure on the BBC from the Israeli government and the Israeli embassy, and they are very assertive towards all journalists and to the BBC itself - they challenge every single thing on reporting the whole time.

"I think there is a bias towards saying that Israel is a democracy in the Middle East, that Israel has a right to exist, that Israel has its security concerns."

According to Labour's code of conduct, questioning Israel's right to exist is anti-Semitic.

Labour MP John Mann, who is chair of the all-party group on anti-Semitism, said: “I’m sure Jeremy will want to set the record state immediately - preferably by making a statement on the BBC.”

He added: “We should be backing the BBC. The BBC stand for everything that the Labour party and its values stand for and nobody should be going on Press TV."

Responding to the video, a spokesperson for the Labour Party said: "Jeremy was arguing that despite the occupation of Palestinian territory and the lack of a Palestinian state, Israeli concerns and perspectives are more likely to appear prominently in news reporting than Palestinian ones.  

​"Jeremy is committed to a comprehensive peace in the Middle East based on a two-state solution - a secure Israel alongside a secure and viable state of Palestine.

"The Israeli government is well known to run an effective and highly professional media operation."

The latest controversy comes just days after the Labour leader apologised for the “hurt caused” to Jewish people by anti-Semitism within Labour and admitted the party had been “too slow” to deal with the issue.

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Read the most recent article written by Liz Bates - Jeremy Corbyn admits he would rather see a Brexit deal than a second referendum

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