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UK Labour Party suspends candidate after comments alleging Israel let 7 October attack happen

Labour said it would not be able to replace Azhar Ali before 29 February as the deadline had passed
Britain's main opposition Labour Party leader Keir Starmer leaves the BBC in London, 14 January 2024 (Henry Nicholls/AFP)

The UK Labour Party has suspended its candidate for an upcoming by-election just weeks ahead of the vote after comments he made claiming Israel allowed the 7 October attacks to happen.

Azhar Ali was selected as the party's candidate to replace Tony Lloyd MP, who died last month.

Last week, recordings appeared in British media in which Ali argued that Israel had been warned a day before 7 October that an attack was planned by Hamas.

Ali said Israel "deliberately took the security off" so they would have the opportunity to "do whatever they bloody want".

The 7 October attack killed 1,140 people, almost 700 of whom were civilians, and saw around 240 people taken captive to Gaza.

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A report by British tabloid Daily Mail also said Ali claimed "people in the media from certain Jewish quarters" were responsible for the suspension of pro-Palestinian Labour MP Andy McDonald.

Although Ali apologised for his comments on Sunday, branding them "deeply offensive, ignorant, and false", the party announced on Monday he had been suspended.

A spokesperson for the party added it would not be able to find another candidate because the deadline has passed to replace him.

"We understand that these are highly unusual circumstances but it is vital that any candidate put forward by Labour fully represents its aims and values," the spokesperson said.

Labour spent many years engulfed in a row over antisemitism, sparked off after the election of pro-Palestinian leader Jeremy Corbyn in 2015.

Corbyn was accused of allowing antisemitism to take root in the party during his leadership, although his allies said many of the claims were factionally motivated.

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