Corbyn on trip to Jordan: Labour government would quickly recognize Palestine
search

Corbyn on trip to Jordan: Labour government would quickly recognize Palestine

Ahead of visit to Palestinian refugee camp, Israel-bashing British opposition leader slams Trump moves on Jerusalem as a 'catastrophic mistake'

UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn walks in the main market road during his visit to the Zaatari Syrian Refugee Camp, in Mafraq, Jordan, Friday, June 22, 2018. Arabic in background reads 'Hamoudah restaurant, Arabic Falafel.' (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)
UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn walks in the main market road during his visit to the Zaatari Syrian Refugee Camp, in Mafraq, Jordan, Friday, June 22, 2018. Arabic in background reads 'Hamoudah restaurant, Arabic Falafel.' (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

ZAATARI REFUGEE CAMP, Jordan — British opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn said Friday that a government under his leadership would recognize a Palestinian state “very early on” and push hard for a political solution to the Syrian civil war.

Corbyn spoke during his first international trip outside Europe since he was elected Labour Party leader in 2015.

On Friday, he toured Zaatari, Jordan’s largest camp for Syrian refugees. On Saturday, he is to visit a decades-old camp for Palestinians uprooted during Arab-Israeli wars.

In Zaatari, he walked through the camp market, lined by hundreds of stalls, where he sampled falafel and chatted with a sweets vendor who told him his dream is to return to Syria as soon as possible. Corbyn also inspected a sprawling solar power installation that provides about 12 hours a day of electricity to the camp’s 80,000 residents.

Labour under Corbyn gained parliament seats, but narrowly lost to Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative Party in 2017 snap elections.

Opinion polling suggests the two parties are neck and neck. Britain is not scheduled to have another election until 2022, but there could be an early vote if May’s fragile minority government suffers a major defeat in Parliament.

With his visit to Jordan, Corbyn appeared to be burnishing his foreign policy credentials.

United Kingdom’s Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn inspects a primary health care center during his visit to the Zaatari Syrian Refugee Camp, in Mafraq, Jordan, Friday, June 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

Taking questions from reporters in the Zaatari market, he said that a Labour government would “work very, very hard to regenerate the peace process” in Syria. He said two parallel sets of talks about a solution for Syria would need to “come together,” but did not offer specifics.

Without a solution in Syria, “the conflict will continue, more people will die in Syria and many more will go to refugee camps, either here in Jordan or come to Europe or elsewhere,” he said.

More than 6 million Syrians have fled civil war in their homeland, with a majority finding refuge in neighboring host countries such as Jordan. Hundreds of thousands more have migrated onward to Europe, with Germany taking in the bulk.

Corbyn said Britain could do much more to shelter Syrian refugees, particularly unaccompanied children, arguing that the government’s quota of 20,000 refugees is “very, very small compared to any other European country.”

Regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Corbyn said the Trump administration’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the US Embassy there was a “catastrophic mistake.”

The Palestinians seek to establish a state in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, lands Israel captured in the 1967 war.

“I think there has to be a recognition of the rights of the Palestinian people to their own state which we as a Labour Party said we would recognize in government as a full state as part of the United Nations,” he said. Such recognition would come “very early on” under a Labour government, he said.

United Kingdom’s Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn is offered candy by Syrian refugee Sohela Sobeihi, 52 while talking to refugees at the main market road, during his visit to the Zaatari Syrian Refugee Camp, in Mafraq, Jordan, Friday, June 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

Since Corbyn’s election as Labour leader, allegations of anti-Semitism in the party have grown. Some in the party have claimed that Corbyn, a longtime critic of Israel, has allowed abuse to go unchecked.

Asked to respond, Corbyn said Friday that “there is no place whatsoever for anti-Semitism in our society.”

“There has to be a peace process, and there has to be a right of the Palestinian people to live in peace, as well as the right of Israel (to live in peace),” he said.

In April, Israel’s opposition Labor Party said it was suspending relations with Corbyn, accusing him of showing hostility to the Jewish community and allowing anti-Semitic statements and actions from his party officials.

Head of the Zionist Union faction Avi Gabbay leads a faction meeting at the Knesset, on January 01, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Labor leader Avi Gabbay sent a letter to Corbyn informing him of the decision. The suspension of ties applies only to Corbyn’s office and not the party as a whole.

“It is my responsibility to acknowledge the hostility that you have shown to the Jewish community and the anti-Semitic statements and actions you have allowed as leader of the Labour Party UK,” Gabbay wrote.

“This is in addition to your very public hatred of the policies of the Government of the State of Israel, many of which regard the security of our citizens and actions of our soldiers — policies where the opposition and coalition in Israel are aligned.”

Corbyn called for Britain to review its arms deals with Israel amid deadly clashes along the Gaza border and slammed the “silence from the international powers.” He also said in April that the UK must investigate the latest “illegal and inhumane” incidents carried out by the Israel Defense Forces there.

He also faced sharp criticism from some of his own lawmakers for attending a Passover event hosted by a Jewish far-left group that has dismissed claims of anti-Semitism in Labour as “faux-outrage” and called for Israel to be “disposed of.”

Corbyn has been criticized in the past for referring to Lebanon’s powerful Shiite terror group Hezbollah as “friends” and urging dialogue with the Hamas Islamist terror group.

In 2016, Corbyn reportedly refused an invitation from Gabbay’s predecessor Isaac Herzog to visit Israel in general and the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in particular, amid the ongoing anti-Semitism controversy surrounding large numbers of officials and activists affiliated with Labour.

read more:
comments