13 Jul 2015

Jeremy Corbyn: ‘I wanted Hamas to be part of the debate’

Labour leadership candidate Jeremy Corbyn explains why he described the Islamist militant organisations Hamas and Hezbollah as “friends” and says he does not agree with them.

Mr Corbyn told Channel 4 News he had used the word “friends” in a “collective way” at a meeting in parliament. “I’m saying that people I talk to, I use it in a collective way, saying our friends are prepared to talk.

“Does it mean I agree with Hamas and what it does? No. Does it mean I agree with Hezbollah and what they do? No. What it means is that I think to bring about a peace process, you have to talk to people with whom you may profoundly disagree.

“There is not going to be a peace proccess unless there is talks involving Israel, Hezbollah and Hamas and I think everyone knows that.”

‘Welcomed our friends’

“I spoke at a meeting about the Middle East crisis in parliament and there were people there from Hezbollah and I said I welcomed our friends from Hezbollah to have a discussion and a debate, and I said I wanted Hamas to be part of that debate. I have met Hamas in Lebanon and I’ve met Hezbollah in this country and Lebanon.

“The wider question is Hamas and Hezbollah are part of a wider peace process. Even the former head of Mossad says that there has to be talks involving Hamas.

“I’ve also had discussions with people from the right in Israeli politics who have the same view possibly that the state of Israel should extend from the river to the sea, as it is claimed people from the Palestinian side do.

Mr Corbyn was also questioned about his views on British military intervention in Syria, and said he opposed it.

‘No solution’

“I don’t think British intervention by military means is going to bring about a solution. I think there has to be ultimately a political solution.

“I think the issue has to be choking off the arms supply and the money that goes to Isil, recognise where Isil have come from and also recognising, I think, there was quite a big mistake in not reconvening the Geneva conference involving Iran, which could have helped to bring about, at a much earlier point, a ceasefire in the other part of this Syrian civil war.

“That is between the government of Syria, Free Syrian Army and the Kurdish forces, as opposed to the Isil forces, which have grown significantly in the last year.

Talking about the super rich in Britain, he said: “My goal is to reduce inequality, to end inequality is a very difficult thing to do. The hundred richest people own as much as a third of the population…we have the very wealthy buying up parts of London to keep it empty and use it as an investment bank for the future.

“Are super-rich people actually happy with being super-rich? I would want the super rich to pay properly their share of the needs of the rest of the community.”