Israeli Labor leader cuts ties with Jeremy Corbyn
In the letter, Gabbay said Corbyn had expressed “very public hatred of the policies of the government of the state of Israel, many of which regard the security of our citizens and actions of our soldiers – policies where the opposition and coalition in Israel are aligned”.
Gabbay said he was instigating a “temporary suspension” of relations with Corbyn but not severing the official link between the two parties, saying they had “a long history of friendship” and citing better relations with former prime ministers Harold Wilson, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.
“I have informed all Labor Israel staff, members of Knesset [the Israeli parliament] and elected leaders of the Labour party Israel of the suspension of ties with your office.
“I have asked the international secretary of the Labor party Israel to update me quarterly on this situation and should this suspension change, you will be updated accordingly.”
Relations between Labour and its Israeli sister party have deteriorated since Corbyn became leader in September 2015.
Gabbay, who is likely to be the centre-left alliance’s candidate for prime minister at the next election, has signalled a shift to the right in recent months, backing Israeli soldiers’ actions over the shooting of protesters in Gaza and suggesting Israeli settlers should not be forced out of their homes in the event of a peace deal.
The party’s former leader Isaac Herzog, who still leads the party in the Israeli parliament, wrote a furious letter to Corbyn, saying he was appalled at the former London mayor Ken Livingstone’s comments on Hitler and Zionism.
Herzog invited Corbyn to visit Yad Vashem, the Israel Holocaust memorial museum, “to witness that the last time the Jews were forcibly transported it was not to Israel but to their deaths”. Corbyn declined the invitation, citing diary difficulties.
The Zionist Union, the centre-left alliance in which Labor is the leading political force, is the main opposition in the Knesset. However, it has taken a nosedive in the polls in recent months, falling behind Likud, the centrist Yesh Atid and the Joint List alliance of leftwing and Israeli Arab parties.