UK: Labor divests candidate after comments on Israel ​

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British Labor Party leader Keir Starmer assured Tuesday that Labor had “changed”, after withdrawing its nomination from a candidate in a by-election who had accused Israel of having willingly allowed Hamas to carry out its deadly October 7 attack.

The affair is embarrassing for Labor leader Keir Starmer: given favorite by the polls to become British Prime Minister this year, he is seeking to turn the page on the accusations aimed at Jeremy Corbyn, his predecessor at the head of the opposition, incriminated for allowing anti-Semitism to flourish within its ranks.

Azhar Ali was Labour’s candidate for the February 29 by-election in Rochdale, northwest England, which aims to replace MP Tony Lloyd who died last month.

But this elected official maintained during a local meeting this fall that Israel had deliberately allowed Hamas to attack it on its soil on October 7, in order to then justify an invasion of the Gaza Strip.

“New information emerged yesterday (Monday) requiring decisive action, so I took decisive action,” Keir Starmer told British television on Tuesday.

He spoke of a “difficult”, “necessary” decision, “but when I say that Labor has changed under my leadership, I am serious”, he insisted.

After initially supporting Mr Ali, who later apologized, the Labor Party dropped him on Monday evening after new elements emerged.

The Daily Mail published the recording of this meeting, during which the candidate also accused “the media – and some people from Jewish neighborhoods working in the media” of having acted in favor of the suspension of Andy McDonald, a former pro-Palestinian Labor MP.

“These are very unusual circumstances, but it is vital that any candidate put forward by the Labor Party fully represents its aims and values,” a Labor Party spokesperson said on Monday.

With nominations closed, there will be no Labor representative for the Rochdale election. If elected, Azhar Ali will sit as an independent.

The main British opposition party, Labor is the favorite to win the legislative elections scheduled for this year against the Conservatives who have been in power for 14 years.

Its leader Keir Starmer has made it his mission to eradicate anti-Semitism within the party, after a series of incidents under the leadership of former Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn.

“Labour hasn’t changed, it’s a scam,” reacted Conservative Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

Keir Starmer’s firmness has also earned him once again criticism from the left wing of his party, who accuse him of being too pro-Israeli in recent months and his refusal to call for a ceasefire in Gaza. . Some polls also suggest a decline in favorable opinions towards his party in Britain’s large Muslim community.

This article is originally published on fr.timesofisrael.com

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