Jeremy Corbyn has defended his party's record on anti-Semitism, while also denying that he had compared Israel to terror group Islamic State.
Speaking in front of parliament's home affairs committee today, Corbyn said that he wanted a “large and inclusive party”, and denied claims from one of his own MPs that Labour is “not a safe space for British Jews”.
It comes after Labour sought to launch its report into anti-Semitism, an event in which backbencher Ruth Smeeth complained of being abused by one party campaigner, while Corbyn appeared to draw parallels between Israel and the terror group.
"Our Jewish friends are no more responsible for the actions of Israel or the Netanyahu government than our Muslim friends are for those of various self-styled Islamic states or organisations,” Corbyn said last Thursday.
Speaking yesterday, Corbyn stressed that he had instead been alluding to countries including Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.
“I'm disappointed that some people decided to say that I had made an equation,” Corbyn said, later adding: “It would have been better, with hindsight, if I 'd said Islamic countries, rather than states.”
The Labour leader also stated his regret for widely reported comments in which he described Hamas and Hezbollah as “friends”.
“It was inclusive language I had used, which with hindsight I would rather not have used. I regret using those words,” he said.
And Corbyn also moved to defend his press chief Seamus Milne after MPs raised his comments at a 2009, in which Milne reportedly stated that Hamas “will not be broken”.
The Labour leader claimed to be unaware of the incident and said: “Mr Milne works extremely hard on behalf of the Labour party.
“I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to be quizzed on his individual views.”
The Labour leader added: “He’s a man of immense intellect and a scholar - he’s written many books.”