British Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday attacked opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn for his refusal to meet with her over Brexit, asking the Labour party chairman why he met with members of terror groups Hamas, Hezbollah and the Irish Republican Army, but not with her.
“He has been willing to sit down with Hamas, Hezbollah and the IRA without preconditions but he will not meet with me to talk about Brexit,” May charged during Prime Minister’s Question Time in the House of Commons.
In response, Corbyn said he offered to meet with the British prime minister last fall, before quoting a line previously used by Hilary Benn MP: “While the door to her office may well be open, minds inside are completely closed.”
May opened her speech at the weekly event by mentioning the upcoming International Holocaust Remembrance Day, saying: “We must all challenge prejudice and hatred,” Sky News reported.
PM says Jeremy Corbyn "was willing to sit down with Hamas, Hezbollah and the IRA… yet he won't meet me to talk about #Brexit"
— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) January 23, 2019
Corbyn also mentioned the annual commemoration, and said the prime minister was right to acknowledge the other genocides that have taken place since World War II.
The exchange came after the House of Commons rejected May’s withdrawal deal last week, leaving Britain on course to exit the EU on March 29 with no deal.
She has promised to try once again to amend the agreement, but critics say she will not succeed — and that parliament must now take control. May has promised a debate and votes on the way forward on January 29.
Her criticism of Corbyn referred to a series of meetings and events attended by the opposition leader.
Corbyn reportedly sat on a panel at a 2012 conference in Doha with several Palestinian terrorists sentenced for murder and shared the platform with then Hamas head Khaled Mashaal.
While a backbench MP, Corbyn invited “our friends” from Hamas and Hezbollah to speak at an event in Parliament.
Allegations of anti-Semitism have dogged Corbyn since he became Labour leader three years ago, and the furor has reached fever pitch since last March.
The crisis over anti-Semitism in the opposition party has caused a major schism within its ranks and led Jews to express fears over their future in the country.
Corbyn says anti-Semitism has no place in the Labour Party, but he has been roundly criticized over reports of rampant anti-Jewish prejudice, for his own allegedly anti-Semitic statements and activities, and for not backing the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism.
Labour faced a backlash after partially adopting the IHRA’s definition of anti-Semitism in July but stripping it of clauses pertaining to criticism of Israel. The party last month adopted the definition in full, but added a “free speech” clause that sparked further anger by Jewish groups. Corbyn himself sought and failed to add a further caveat that would have stated that calling Israel and its foundation “racist” should not be considered anti-Semitic.
Comments made in 2013 resurfaced last year in which Corbyn said British “Zionists” were unable to understand British irony. The Labour leader later said he was defending Palestinian Authority Ambassador Manuel Hassassian from two people who had berated him during a meeting.
He also stood by his decision to attend a 2014 memorial service in Tunisia, saying he was “not sure” if Palestinian terrorists linked to the Munich massacre of Israeli athletes were buried at the cemetery where it was held.
“I thought it was right to take part in what was a very solemn ceremony… I’m not even sure who was buried there at the time,” he said. “I’m not a supporter of Black September, of course, but I always think we should commemorate those who have been killed in bombing raids. And that’s what I was doing.”
Corbyn had initially claimed he attended the ceremony at the Cemetery of the Martyrs of Palestine in Tunisia to commemorate the 47 Palestinians killed during an Israeli bombing raid there in 1985. But images recovered from a Palestinian Embassy archive by the Daily Mail showed Corbyn holding a wreath near a plaque dedicated to members of the Black September terrorist group.