British opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, who is facing allegations of enabling anti-Semitism, acknowledged Monday that he was present at a wreath-laying to Palestinians linked to the murder of 11 Israelis at the 1972 Munich Olympics.
When questioned by reporters about his presence at the ceremony, Corbyn responded, “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 because we have to end it.”
In response, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted Monday that “the laying of a wreath by Jeremy Corbyn on the graves of the terrorist[s] who perpetrated the Munich massacre and his comparison of Israel to the Nazis deserves unequivocal condemnation from everyone — left, right and everything in between.”
Corbyn, a longtime critic of Israel, has faced mounting criticism since the Daily Mail published photos of him holding a wreath in a Tunis cemetery in 2014, near what the newspaper said were graves of Black September members. The Palestinian terror group carried out the kidnapping and massacre of 11 at the Munich games. Several members were later killed by Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency.
Corbyn has previously said he was at the cemetery to commemorate the victims of a 1985 Israeli air attack on Palestinian Liberation Organization offices in Tunis.
On Monday, he acknowledged a wreath had also been laid to “those that were killed in Paris in 1992.” PLO official Atef Bseiso, whom Israel has accused of helping to plan the Munich Olympic attack, was gunned down outside a Paris hotel that year.
“Being ‘present’ is the same as being involved,” said Labour lawmaker Luciana Berger. “Where is the apology?”
Corbyn has been accused of failing to expel party members who express anti-Semitic views and has received personal criticism for past statements, including a 2010 speech in which he compared Israel’s blockade of Gaza to Nazi Germany’s sieges of Leningrad and Stalingrad during World War II.
The dispute recently boiled over after the party proposed adopting a definition of anti-Semitism that differed from the one approved by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.
Labour’s version omits some of the alliance’s language related to criticism of Israel. The alliance’s definition says it is anti-Semitic to compare contemporary Israeli policies to the policies of the Nazis, a view Labour did not endorse.