Ken Livingstone has said he is sorry for an uproar over comments he made connecting Hitler and Zionism. He defended himself, however, by saying his statement was not very different from one made by Israel's leader.
Former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone said on Saturday that he was sorry for the uproar caused by his comments about Adolf Hitler supporting Zionism. However, Livingstone refused to withdraw his statement despite the row that has rocked Britain's Labour Party.
"I really regret saying it because it has caused all this eruption," the 70-year-old politician told LBC radio.
Livingstone was suspended from the UK's center-left party on Thursday after he said Hitler's original plan had been to forcibly move Europe's Jews to Israel, and therefore he was "was supporting Zionism before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews."
The onetime mayor had been defending Labour lawmaker Naz Shah, who herself was suspended on Wednesday after it was discovered she had published anti-Semitic posts to social media two years ago.
Livingstone: I don't regret telling the truth
Although he regretted the hubbub, Livingstone, who led London from 2000-2008, did not back down from his comments, saying Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had also said as much and that "I never regret saying something that is true."
Last October, Netanyahu told the crowd gathered at the World Zionist Congress that Hitler had planned to expel the Jews until he met with a Palestinian nationalist in 1941. The Israeli leader then found himself apologizing for his comments, saying he had no intention of exonerating Hitler.
Livingstone, a longtime ally of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, blamed "embittered" members of their own party who dislike their new socialist leader for causing a fuss in an effort to undermine them both.
"My entire time in politics has been defending minorities," he said in the Saturday radio interview.
Corbyn has announced an independent review into racism in the party as the upset threatens to hurt Labour's chances at regional polls next week.
es/tj (AP, AFP)