Labour anti-Semitism row: Norwich MP says racism and xenophobia has no part in building peace in Palestine

The Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk protest taking place in Norwich c

The Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk protest taking place in Norwich centre. M.P Clive Lewis adding his voice to the protest.It comes as mental health services in the region are facing the strain following multi-million pound cuts and the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust being placed into special measures. Photo : Steve Adams - Credit: Steve Adams

Norwich MP Clive Lewis has said he rejects the use of racist, xenophobic and anti-Semitic language after a political blog raised one his social media posts from 2011 in which he quoted a commentator suggesting Israel should have been put in the 'Middle-West', not the 'Middle-East'.

The ally of leader Jeremy Corbyn, who published the post before he was an MP or a Labour candidate, said he was observing rolling news and unfolding events.

The social media post was highlighted by the political website Guido Fawkes.

He pointed out that he had later posted another quote from a commentator claiming Asia, Africa and Europe were in flames and America was next 'because of jihadists and the socialist-communist-progressives'

He said: 'The tweet was not in support of relocating Israel. It was an observation of the heightened tensions in the Middle East being made on different sides of the debate in the Arab Spring. I no more agreed with that statement than I did with the tweet a few minutes later quoting the right wing US commentator Glenn Beck, blaming it on progressives and socialists.'

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He added last night: 'Like many in Norwich and across the region I have always believed the solution to the conflict in the Middle-East is through dialogue that is based on mutual respect by all parties. The peace the people in the region urgently need will not be achieved through violence or bigotry. I fully reject the use of racist, xenophobic and anti-semitic language. It has no part in building the environment where peace can be built in Palestine, and has no part in the Labour Party which since its inception fought against the menace of racism in all its forms.'

It comes as the MP embroiled in accusations of anti-Semitism, Naz Shah, stood down from the Commons home affairs select committee as it launches a probe into anti-Jewish prejudice in British life.

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Ms Shah has been suspended from the Labour Party pending the outcome of an internal investigation into social media posts she made before the last general election which have been branded anti-Semitic in tone.

Announcing Ms Shah's move, home affairs committee chairman Keith Vaz said Prime Minister David Cameron and Mr Corbyn would give evidence during the probe into anti-Semitism.

Mr Vaz said: 'Naz Shah attended the private session of the committee today and she has informed me and the committee that she wishes to stand aside from all her duties until current matters are resolved.

'We have accepted her decision. She will not take part in any future matters concerning the home affairs select committee with immediate effect, until further notice.

'The committee will now proceed with its inquiry into anti-Semitism, and we will begin calling witnesses including the Community Security Trust, the Jewish Board of Deputies, Ken Livingstone, and the Prime Minister, Jeremy Corbyn & Angus Robertson.'

In a House of Commons debate this evening Norwich MP Chloe Smith accused Mr Lewis of sending 'extreme' tweets.

She said she expected the reports linked to her fellow Norwich MP Clive Lewis were being examined by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Speaking during a Commons debate on the Housing and Planning Bill, former minister Ms Smith (Norwich North) said: 'Norwich City Council is, I'm sorry to report, led by Labour.

'Now, of course we do have elections on Thursday this week and Norwich Labour Party may be having a rather difficult week.

'The leader of the Labour Party no doubt is looking right now into reported extreme tweets from the honourable member for Norwich South.'

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