Row after revelation Jeremy Corbyn signed document accusing Israel of genocide

Patrick Sawer
Jeremy Corbyn MP arrives on the first day of the Labour Party Conference 2019 in Brighton  - Christopher Pledger

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn accused Israel of carrying out a genocide of the Palestinian people in a far left document which also appeared to back armed resistance to the Jewish state.

Mr Corbyn was among several high profile left-wing names to put his name to the ‘Cairo Declaration’ which called for a boycott of Israel and accused it of perpetrating “apartheid” against the Palestinians, it has emerged.

The existence of the 2002 document has emerged on the eve of Labour’s conference in Brighton and is bound to further embarrass moderate elements in the party who fear it is allowing itself to be painted as extreme in the run up to a general election.

Critics have said Mr Corbyn’s decision to put his name to a document placed him on the side of those who question the very right of Israel to exist.

The emergence of the document comes as leaflets accusing Israel of being a racist state were being handed out to delegates arriving at Labour conference yesterday.

The leaflet, issued by a faction called Labour Party Marxists, carries an article headlined A Racist Endeavour, describing Israel as a “colonial settler project” involved in “systematic discrimination” against the Palestinians.

Delegates arrive on the first day of the Labour Party Conference 2019 in Brighton Credit: Christopher Pledger for the Telegraph

The Cairo Declaration, which was also signed by Mr Corbyn’s close ally and advisor Andrew Murray - a former member of the Communist Party - claimed that Israel had robbed the Palestinians of their land and accused the US of providing “unlimited support to the Zionist perpetrators of genocidal crimes against he Palestinian people”.

In what could be interpreted as support for attacks on Israel by armed groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah, the declaration went on to give its backing to the “legitimate struggle of the Palestinian people to resist occupation, liberate their land and return to their homes”.

Moderate Labour Party members last night condemned Mr Corbyn’s stance on Israel, saying it left British Jews fearful of what a Corbyn government would mean for them.

Jennifer Gerber, director of Labour Friends of Israel, said: "Jeremy Corbyn's disturbing obsession with the world's only Jewish state is once again clear for all to see. 

“This declaration shows not an ounce of sympathy for the hundreds of innocent Israelis who were being brutally murdered at the time by Palestinian terrorists on buses, pizza restaurants and nightclubs. No wonder the Jewish community fears Corbyn becoming Prime Minister."

The row comes amid continued concern over Labour’s attitude to anti-Semitism within its own ranks, with some claiming the party has not done enough to tackle the problem.

As well as Mr Corbyn, other high profile left wing campaigners who put their names to the declaration, issued at an international conference held in Cairo in December 2002, were the actress Julie Christie; filmmaker Ken Loach;  trade union leaders Mick Rix, former general secretary of Alsef; and Paul Mackney, General Secretary of the National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education.

Andrew Murray, chair of the Stop The War Coalition and advisor to Jeremy Corbyn, delivers a letter to the Conservative Party Headquarters during the Stop The War Coalition's emergency protest on December 1, 2015 Credit: Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images

Among the signatories was also the late Tony Benn MP; the late playwright Harold Pinter; and environmental campaigner and writer George Monbiot.

The declaration was issued at a gathering of left-wing activists from around the world held in the Egyprian capital in the wake of the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington and in the run-up to the US invasion of Iraq.

A spokesperson for the Labour Party said: "Jeremy Corbyn has consistently made the correct calls in the interests of security and peace, including his opposition to the disastrous Iraq war that has caused catastrophe in the region and made us less safe at home.

"He has a long and principled record of solidarity with the Palestinian people. He does not describe the decades of forced evictions, violence and denial of rights as genocidal or the system of dispossession and discrimination in the illegally occupied territories as apartheid."