Labour’s Corbyn calls for investigation of Israel’s influence in British politics


(JTA) — British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has called on the government to investigate “improper interference in our democratic politics,” after an Israeli embassy official was recorded as saying he wanted to “take down” several British politicians who he deemed unfriendly to Israel.

The comments by Shai Masot, described by Israel as a junior embassy employee, were made to a former aide to a British Conservative lawmaker during a meeting to discuss how to discredit anti-Israel lawmakers at a London restaurant and filmed by an Al-Jazeera journalist posing as a pro-Israel activist.

The recording was part of a four-part series aired by Al-Jazeera titled The Lobby, which the network says exposes how the Israel lobby influences British politics.

Israel’s ambassador to Britain, Mark Regev, personally apologized to British Deputy Foreign Minister Alan Duncan, one of the British politicians named by Masot. The British Foreign Office has said it considers the matter closed. Masot resigned after the recordings were made public.

In his letter to British Prime Minister Theresa May, Corbyn wrote:  “Many members of Parliament and the public will be concerned at this evidence of attempts to undermine the integrity of our democracy. I’m sure you’ll agree that such improper interference in this country’s democratic process is unacceptable, whatever country is involved.” He called the issue “a matter of national security.”

Corbyn has been accused of doing too little to curb rampant anti-Semitism among Labour party members and lawmakers, some of whom have been suspended for making racist and anti-Semitic statements on social media and in other public forums. A harsh critic of Israel who in 2009 called Hezbollah and Hamas activists “friends” after inviting representatives from both terrorist groups to visit the British Parliament as his guests, Corbyn is accused of encouraging vitriol against Israel and Jews by not distancing himself from groups such as Hamas.

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