The feeling is not mutual. While one has made up his mind, another is yet to make a final decision.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin ‘Bibi’ Netanyahu has refused to confirm whether he will meet British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn in near future. Corbyn recently said that he might visit Israel soon and would be happy to meet the PM. However, the Labour leader’s comment has failed to convince Bibi, who maintains a distance with the British opposition party as the allegations of Labour anti-Semitism have grown since Corbyn was elected leader of the party in 2015. The Israeli premier believes that Corbyn – a pro-Palestinian socialist and a long-time critic of Israeli policies towards the Palestinians – has allowed his party members to abuse the Jewish sentiment.
Asked by the media whether Bibi would be happy to host Corbyn, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has tried to bypass the query. A couple of days ago, the Israeli premier’s spokesperson (for the English media) David Keyes said that “questions about diplomatic meeting with foreign political leaders should be asked of the Foreign Ministry, as that is (their) prime objective.” He also told the press that only the PM’s aides could shed light on this issue.
Earlier, the British Jews and their Israeli supporters strongly criticised Corbyn for trying to influence Europe with his pro-Palestinian views. However, the Labour supremo told the Jewish News of London last week that he was eager to visit the West Asian nation and to meet PM Netanyahu.
It is to be noted that the media had asked Bibi in November 2017 how he would react if Corbyn were to be elected British PM. He replied: “Well, first of all the British people decide who they want to govern them. But, I hope that there will be a continuity of British policy with Israel because here’s something people don’t know – that co-operation has saved many lives.” Netanyahu further said: “Intense security and intelligence co-operation has saved many Israeli and British lives. And it’s something I hope will continue in the future.”
Foreign policy analysts are of the opinion that the Israeli PM is caught in a dilemma. As a foreign minister, Netanyahu knows that it is not possible for him to refuse to meet Corbyn, if the latter visits his office. (However) as a PM, he has a responsibility to safeguard Israel’s interests. So, Netanyahu is not in a hurry to disclose his future plan. Perhaps, he will meet Corbyn, if the Labour leader arrives in Jerusalem.
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