Jeremy Corbyn refuses to apologise over wreath row
Jeremy Corbyn has refused to apologise for his attendance at a controversial memorial service honouring suspected Palestinian terrorists.
The Labour leader has been under fire over claims, denied by the party, that he laid a wreath at a grave commemorating those accused of being behind the 1972 massacre of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics.
Yesterday he admitted “being present” at the 2014 wreath-laying ceremony in Tunisia, but said he did not think he had been “involved”.
Labour backbencher and Jewish MP Luciana Berger dismissed the explanation, however, and demanded an apology over the incident.
But today Mr Corbyn refused to apologise telling Sky News: "No, I’m not apologising for being there at all…
“I was there when the wreaths were laid – that’s pretty obvious.
“There were many others there that were witness to that, I witnessed many other people laying many wreaths."
Labour has insisted Mr Corbyn was at the Palestine National Cemetery in Tunisia to honour the victims of a 1985 Israeli airstrike.
Responding to the row, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: "The laying of 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."
Mr Corbyn shot back, however, saying the claims were "false" and lashing out at the Israeli Government's recent response to protests in Gaza.
"What deserves unequivocal condemnation is the killing of over 160 Palestinian protesters in Gaza by Israeli forces since March, including dozens of children," he said.
Chris Williamson, a Labour MP and close ally of Mr Corbyn, piled into the row saying Mr Netanyahu "belongs in the Hague" and has "no moral authority whatsoever".
"People are clutching at straws trying to smear and demonise Jeremy Corbyn - the same thing happened with Nelson Mandela," he told BBC Radio 4.
"These smears are not actually cutting through - if anything actually they are stiffening support for Jeremy Corbyn and we have seen a surge in membership from Labour supporters."
A Labour spokesperson said: "As has been consistently stated, Jeremy Corbyn visited the Palestine National Cemetery in Tunisia to support Palestinian rights and honour the victims of the illegal 1985 airstrike, many of whom were civilians, on the PLO's headquarters - an attack condemned by the UN.
"Jeremy did not lay any wreath at the graves of those alleged to have been linked to the Black September organisation or the 1972 Munich killings. He of course condemns that terrible attack, as he does the 1985 bombing."