MP: I’ll work with Corbyn despite Israel difference
A JEWISH Labour MP who was promoted to shadow foreign minister in Jeremy Corbyn’s reshuffle has said he can work with the party leader despite their significant differences over Israel.
Fabian Hamilton, a vocal critic of the party’s approach to Palestinian statehood during Ed Miliband’s leadership, said he knew there would be “difficult bridges to cross” in his work alongside Mr Corbyn.
But the 60-year-old said he felt duty-bound to take the job and use his experience of foreign affairs to benefit the party.
Mr Hamilton said: “I know what the Jewish community thinks about Jeremy’s leadership and I’m well aware of Jeremy’s views, but the Labour Party is more than one person.
“I did point out my own particular views that are very different to Jeremy’s on the Middle East and I was told ‘that’s fine, he’s perfectly happy with that’.”
Mr Hamilton’s new
Fabian Hamilton position includes responsibility for issues relating to the United Nations and Nato, nuclear counter-proliferation — he opposes renewing the Trident missile system — sub-Saharan Africa and countries in the Indian subcontinent.
He said: “I’m not going to sit here three days into the job and say ‘if this happens I’ll resign or if that happens I’ll resign’. I’m going to have to see how it goes.”
He added: “There will be areas that wi l l be difficult, I accept that, but I’ll have to make a judgement at the time. I’ll cross any difficult bridges when I come to them.”
Acknowledging Mr Corbyn’s past criticisms of Israel, Mr Hamilton said his election as party leader repres e n t e d a “fur
t h e r step against Israel” following Mr Miliband’s time in charge. But the Leeds North East MP said that it was important that Hilary Benn had remained as Shadow Foreign Secretary.
“If it had been Diane Abbott, it would have been different. But it’s Hilary Benn, a close personal friend, someone I’ve worked closely with over many years, a neighbouring MP, someone I trust hugely. I don’t think he and I differ at all actually on our approach to the Middle East.”
In December Mr Hamilton had criticised Mr Corbyn while speaking at an event held in aid of Wizo in Leeds.
He had told the audience that his party leader “hasn’t got very good judgment, which means that some of the people around him are utterly awful”.
The MP said he stood by his views of the leader’s advisers following his promotion, but said that his remarks relating to Mr Corbyn’s judgment had been in relation to his past comments about Hizbollah.
“Some of the people around Jeremy, I do question their judgment,” Mr Hamilton told the JC.
He criticised former leader Ed Miliband for “interfering far too much” in the foreign affairs brief, a situation permitted by his “very weak” Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander.