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Corbyn and Netanyahu exchange barbs over wreath laying ceremony

Photos of Labour leader's attendance at wreath laying ceremony for militants in 1972 Munich massacre renew accusations of anti-Semitism
Jeremy Corbyn has been dogged by anti-Semitism allegations, which he vigorously denies (Reuters)

Jeremy Corbyn attended a wreath laying ceremony in 2014 for the perpetrators of the 1972 Munich Olympics attack, the UK Labour leader said on Monday, but added that he did not actively participate in laying a wreath down himself.

"I was present when it was laid. I don't think I was actually involved in it,” Corbyn said.

Britain's right-leaning Daily Mail on Friday reported that Corbyn, on a visit to Tunisia in 2014, had laid a wreath at the graves of members of a Palestinian group that killed 11 Israeli athletes and a German policeman at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

It said the cemetery houses a memorial to the dozens killed in the 1985 Israeli bombing of the Palestine Liberation Organisation headquarters in exile in Tunis, as well as the graves of members of Black September, a PLO splinter group that carried out the Munich attack.

The Daily Mail story prompted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to tweet on Monday that Corbyn’s presence requires “unequivocal condemnation”.

Corbyn later responded, saying that Netanyahu’s words were “false”.

Corbyn said he went to the event in Tunis in 2014 “as part of a wider event about the search for peace,” according to a BBC report.

"I was there because I wanted to see a fitting memorial to everyone who has died in every terrorist incident everywhere because we have to end it,” Corbyn said.

UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid said Corbyn should resign. 

Labour issued a statement defending Corbyn: “The Munich widows are being misled. Jeremy did not honour those responsible for the Munich killings.”

Despite deep divisions in the Conservative government as it negotiates Britain's exit from the European Union, Labour's poll standing appears to have been damaged by the anti-Semitism row.

A YouGov poll last week showed that 39 percent of those asked would vote for the Conservatives, a gain of one point for May's party compared to last week when the two biggest parties were level. Labour dropped three points to 35 percent.

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