Jeremy Corbyn apologises for 'pain and hurt' caused by anti-Semitism in Labour

Jeremy Corbyn apologises for 'pain and hurt' caused by anti-Semitism in Labour

Jeremy Corbyn has said he is "sincerely sorry" for the pain caused by "pockets" of anti-Semitism within Labour in the UK as he faced a backlash from Jewish leaders.

The British Labour leader, who has come under fire over his apparent support for the painter of an allegedly anti-Semitic mural, did not make any reference to the criticism aimed at him personally.

But in a statement aimed at building bridges with the Jewish community, he acknowledged that Labour must demonstrate a "total commitment to excising pockets of anti-Semitism that exist in and around our party".

His comments came as Jewish leaders prepared to protest against Mr Corbyn outside the British Houses of Parliament.

The Labour leader said he would meet representatives from the Jewish community over the coming days.

Mr Corbyn said: "Labour is an anti-racist party and I utterly condemn anti-Semitism, which is why as leader of the Labour Party I want to be clear that I will not tolerate any form of anti-Semitism that exists in and around our movement. We must stamp this out from our party and movement.

"We recognise that anti-Semitism has occurred in pockets within the Labour Party, causing pain and hurt to our Jewish community in the Labour Party and the rest of the country.

"I am sincerely sorry for the pain which has been caused."

Responding to the planned protest by the Jewish Leadership Council and Board of Deputies of British Jews, Labour MP Wes Streeting said "we should be ashamed that it's come to this".

Former Cabinet minister Yvette Cooper said Mr Corbyn should apologise for his own actions.

She told Channel 4 News: "I think that it would be right for Jeremy to give a full apology for the comments that he made."

Mr Corbyn said he made a "general comment about the removal of public art on grounds of freedom of speech" but acknowledged he should have looked more closely at the controversial image before posting on Facebook at the time of the row in 2012.

He said: "I sincerely regret that I did not look more closely at the image I was commenting on, the contents of which are deeply disturbing and anti-Semitic."

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