Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has criticised Jeremy Corbyn over his presence at a ceremony where a wreath was laid in memory of Palestinians suspected of being behind the Munich Olympics massacre.
Netanyahu accused the Labour leader of laying a wreath on the grave of one of those behind the 1972 atrocity in which 11 Israeli athletes were killed, during a controversial visit to the Palestinian Martyrs’ Cemetery in Tunisia in 2014.
He said the move deserved “unequivocal condemnation” from those on all sides of politics.
Netanyahu also accused Corbyn of making a “comparison of Israel to the Nazis” in an extraordinary post on Twitter on Monday.
However, Corbyn later hit back, saying the prime minister’s claims were “false”.
He added: “What deserves unequivocal condemnation is the killing of over 160 Palestinian protesters in Gaza by Israeli forces since March, including dozens of children.”
It comes after the Daily Mail published pictures of the Labour leader holding a wreath in the Palestinian Martyr’s Cemetery in Tunisia during a visit in 2014.
Corbyn has admitted he “was present when [the wreath] was laid” but claimed he was “not actually involved” in any ceremony.
Hours later, Corbyn replied:
Speaking to Sky News on Monday, Corbyn said: “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.”
He added: “You cannot pursue peace through a cycle of violence. The only way you pursue peace is a cycle of dialogue.”
Widows of the Israeli athletes murdered at the 1972 Munich Olympics have said they were “extremely disturbed” by the pictures.
Conservative Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, has suggested that Corbyn should quit as Labour leader over the row.
Jewish Labour MP Luciana Berger has dismissed Corbyn’s explanation. “Being ‘present’ is the same as being involved,” she tweeted.
“When I attend a memorial, my presence alone, whether I lay a wreath or not, demonstrates my association & support. There can also never be a ‘fitting memorial’ for terrorists. Where is the apology?”
Labour last night had said the the widows were being “misled” and Corbyn “did not honour those responsible for the Munich killings”.
“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,” the party said.
But the Daily Mail said its investigation showed the pictures of Corbyn were taken in front of a plaque honouring the founder of Black September, which carried out the Munich massacre, while the air strike memorial to civilians was 15 yards away.
Many of those believed to have been behind the murder of 11 Israelis in Munich are said to have been subsequently killed by the Israeli secret service.
The picture emerged amid continuing controversy over Labour’s refusal to adopt in full an international definition of anti-Semitism, including a list of examples of anti-Semitic behaviour.
Corbyn said today controversial version of the international definition of anti-Semitism agreed by Labour’s ruling body was the “most sophisticated” of any political party.
He said the party did not want to “unwittingly” shut down debate about Israel.