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Richard Burgon: Labour MP ‘regrets’ making Zionism remark | Politics News

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A senior Labour frontbencher has been caught on film claiming Zionists are “the enemy of peace”, after previously denying making the comment.

Shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon was recorded giving a speech in 2014 that declared: “The enemy of the Palestinian people are Zionists.”

He continued: “Zionism is the enemy of peace and the enemy of the Palestinian people.

“And we need to be loud, we need to be proud in support of a free Palestine.

“I make no apologies – I’m proud to say not only wouldn’t I be a member of Labour Friends of Israel I’ve never been a member of Labour Friends of Israel.

“I’m all for everyone’s opinions being out there and everyone having their opinion being treated with respect.”

Jeremy Corbyn has been under fire of Labour's handling of antisemitism in the party
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Jeremy Corbyn has been under fire of Labour’s handling of antisemitism in the party

Zionism refers to the movement for a Jewish state to be created on roughly the same area Israel stands now.

Last year, he was quizzed on the comments in a TV interview.

He said it was an “allegation” made by a newspaper and they refused to tell him when he had made the comment.

Mr Burgon said: “I didn’t make those comments, I asked when I was meant to have made those comments – no-one could tell me.”

He continued: “It’s not my view. So if it’s not my view, I wouldn’t have made those comments.”

But confronted with the uncovered video footage, the Leeds East MP said when a newspaper did not remind him when he made the comment “I believed it was inaccurate to have claimed that I had used that phrase”.

He confirmed: “It is now clear that I did and I regret doing so.”

Mr Burgon added that “I do not agree with that phrase” because it “fails” to distinguish between a peaceful solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict and those undermining it.

He pointed out the comment was made a year before he joined the House of Commons, and explained: “The terminology has different meanings to different people and the simplistic language used does not reflect how I now think about this complex issue and I would not use it again today.”

Earlier, Jennifer Gerber from Labour Friends of Israel said that for nearly two years Mr Burgon had deployed “half-denials and weasel words to escape responsibility for his appalling suggestion that Zionism is the enemy of peace”.

She added: “Somebody who aspires to be one of the country’s leading legal figures simply cannot behave in this fashion.”

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