Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Controversial new British Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn will address next Tuesday’s Labor Friends of Israel reception, his office confirmed on Thursday.
Corbyn angered the Jewish community by calling Hamas and Hezbollah terrorists friends and by publicly endorsed a blanket arms embargo on Israel and the boycott of Israeli universities involved in weapons research. He has come under increasing pressure to make amends with the Jewish community since he won the Labor leadership race September 12.
The reception is to be Corbyn’s first lecture to a Jewish audience since the election, so it’s to be watched very closely.
Some 400 people, including 30 members of Parliament, are expected at the event, which traditionally has been addressed by Labor’s leader. “I am looking forward to welcoming the leader of the Labor Party and shadow foreign secretary to this year’s LFI reception,” said LFI’s chairwoman in the House of Commons, MP Joan Ryan. “I hope this will mark the start of a conversation on how the next Labor government can best contribute to the peace process and a two-state solution.”
Corbyn revealed last week to the Church Times that he has a “Jewish element” in his family.
Other speakers at the event are British Shadow Foreign Secretary Hilary Benn and Labor MK Erel Margalit, who said it was important that Corbyn and other British Parliament members hear the pro-Israel speeches at the event.
“It’s very delicate but we are expecting unequivocal support for Israel,” Margalit said. “The British Labor Party has been a very close ally of Israel and my party and we expect it to continue to be.”
Margalit said he would deliver a “proud Israeli Zionist address” at the event. He is also to speak on a panel with British politicians organized by BICOM, the Britain Israel Communications and Research Center.
“My speech is going to be a bold statement about Israel being ready for compromise and looking forward to working with allies in the UK and US against the extremists of Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah,” he said.