Benjamin Netanyahu has waded into the row over Jeremy Corbyn’s record on antisemitism, saying the Labour leader deserves “unequivocal condemnation” for attending a memorial service for the Munich massacre terrorists.
The Israeli prime minister took the unusual step of criticising a foreign politician, as Mr Corbyn faced questions over whether he had paid tribute to those behind the 1972 attack that killed 11 Israeli athletes.
The latest row escalated after pictures emerged of Mr Corbyn attending a 2014 event in Tunisia at which wreaths were laid for the Munich terrorists.
He has admitted being “present” at the event but said he did not “think” he had laid a wreath himself.
However, Mr Netanyahu criticised the Labour leader, writing on Twitter: “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.”
But Mr Corbyn immediately hit back, saying the Israeli prime minister’s “claims about my action and words are false”.
He added: “What deserves condemnation is the killing of over 160 Palestinian protesters in Gaza by Israeli forces since March, including dozens of children.
“The nation state law sponsored by Netanyahu’s government discriminates against Israel’s Palestinian minority.
“I stand with the tens of thousands of Arab and Jewish citizens of Israel demonstrating for equal rights at the weekend in Tel Aviv.”
The row comes as Mr Corbyn was forced to deny having laid a wreath at the graves of the Munich attackers, after images published in the Daily Mail showed him holding a floral tribute next to a plaque commemorating the terrorists.
His team had previously insisted he had only been at the event, held at the Palestinian Martyrs Cemetery in Tunisia, to commemorate Palestinians killed in an Israeli air raid on a PLO base in 1985.
However, the Mail said the photos of him holding the wreath were taken at the memorial for the Munich attackers – 15 feet away from the plaque for the victims of the Israeli air strike, which is in another party of the cemetery.
And the Labour leader has now admitted he had also been “present” when wreaths were laid for Atef Bseiso, who is widely believed to have helped mastermind the attacks.
Speaking for the first time since the images emerged, Mr Corbyn told Sky News: “A wreath was indeed laid by some of those who attended the conference for those who were killed in Paris in 1992.”
The reference to Paris is understood to relate to Bseiso, who was killed in the French capital in 1992 in what was believed to be an Israeli assassination, although the country denied involvement and said he had been murdered by a rival PLO faction.
Asked whether he was involved in the wreath laying in relation to the Munich terrorists, Mr Corbyn said: “I was present when it was laid. I don’t think I was actually involved in it.”
He added: “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. You cannot pursue peace by a cycle of violence. They only way you pursue peace is by a cycle of dialogue.”
Labour MPs also criticised their party leader.
Luciana Berger, parliamentary chair of the Jewish Labour Movement, said: “Being ‘present’ is the same as being involved. When I attend a memorial, my presence alone, whether I lay a wreath or not, demonstrates my association and support.
“There can never be a ‘fitting memorial’ for terrorists. Where is the apology?”
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