Jeremy Corbyn was engaged in an unprecedented war of words with the Israeli prime minister last night over his visit to the graves of the Munich Olympics terrorists.
Benjamin Netanyahu said the Labour leader deserved “unequivocal condemnation from everyone” after Mr Corbyn claimed he was “present” but not “involved” in a ceremony honouring the Black September ringleaders.
In his first intervention in the anti-Semitism row that has engulfed Labour, Mr Netanyahu said Mr Corbyn should be denounced by “left, right and everything in between”.
He also directly accused him of a “comparison of Israel to the Nazis” as relations between Labour and the Jewish community reached an all-time low.
In an extraordinary response, Mr Corbyn launched an aggressive counter-attack accusing Mr Netanyahu of “false” claims and using his own words against him, saying: “What deserves unequivocal condemnation is the killing of over 160 Palestinian protesters in Gaza by Israeli forces since March, including dozens of children.”
Israeli PM @Netanyahu's claims about my actions and words are false.— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) August 13, 2018
What deserves unequivocal condemnation is the killing of over 160 Palestinian protesters in Gaza by Israeli forces since March, including dozens of children.https://t.co/H5nXqi3pnU
After a year of denials, Mr Corbyn was finally forced to admit yesterday he was in attendance at a ceremony to honour the leaders of Black September, the group which murdered 11 Israeli athletes and coaches at the 1972 Olympics.
It also emerged that Mr Corbyn stood next to a leading member of an active Palestinian terrorist group during the ceremony in 2014.
Mr Corbyn faced ridicule for saying he did not “think” he was “involved” in the wreath-laying ceremony, which came despite a series of pictures holding a large wreath next to the grave of Munich mastermind Salah Khalaf.
He was also pictured praying next to the grave of Khalaf and three others regarded as ringleaders in the Munich massacre.
Jewish Labour MPs accused Mr Corbyn of playing with semantics, telling him that attending a service and being involved are one and the same.
But it was his row with Mr Netanyahu that took the anti-Semitism row to a new level and could now encourage other world leaders to address Mr Corbyn on the issue that is threatening to tear Labour apart.
Mr Netanyahu took to Twitter to say: “The laying of a wreath by Jeremy Corbyn on the graves of the terrorists who perpetrated the Munich massacre and his comparison of Israel to the Nazis deserves unequivocal condemnation from everyone – left, right and everything in between.”
The laying of a wreath by Jeremy Corbyn on the graves of the terrorist who perpetrated the Munich massacre and his comparison of Israel to the Nazis deserves unequivocal condemnation from everyone – left, right and everything in between— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) August 13, 2018
A spokesman for Mr Corbyn responded by insisting he “did not lay any wreath at the graves of those alleged to have been linked to the Black September organisation or the 1972 Munich killings. He of course condemns that terrible attack, as he does the 1985 bombing”.
Mr Corbyn soon went further. In a response to Mr Netanyahu via Twitter, he said: “Israeli PM Netanyahu’s claims about my actions and words are false. “What deserves unequivocal condemnation is the killing of over 160 Palestinian protesters in Gaza by Israeli forces since March, including dozens of children.
“The nation state law sponsored by Netanyahu's government discriminates against Israel's Palestinian minority.
“I stand with the tens of thousands of Arab and Jewish citizens of Israel demonstrating for equal rights at the weekend in Tel Aviv.”
Mr Corbyn had earlier changed his story about his now infamous visit to Tunis. He had “absolutely” denied being involved in the wreath-laying ceremony in Tunisia when The Daily Telegraph reported the story on its front page in May last year.
When the photographs of him at the grave emerged over the weekend, widows of the Munich victims demanded an apology, but instead Labour went on the attack, claiming the widows had been “misled” because he “did not honour those responsible for the Munich killings” when he attended a “peace conference” in Tunisia.
Mr Corbyn’s aides repeatedly insisted that he had only been involved in a ceremony to commemorate the deaths of 47 people in an Israeli air force strike on a Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) base in Tunisia in 1985.
However, Mr Corbyn finally admitted yesterday that he had been doing more than just attending a service for the bomb victims.
In a reference to the 1992 assassination of alleged Munich planner Atef Bseiso outside a Paris hotel, Mr Corbyn said: “A wreath was indeed laid by some of those who were at the conference for those who were killed in Paris in 1992. I was present when it was laid. I don’t think I was involved in it.
I was there because I wanted to see a fitting memorial to everyone who’s died in every terrorist incident everywhere, because you have to end it. You cannot pursue peace by a cycle of violence.
“I was there because I wanted to see a fitting memorial to everyone who’s died in every terrorist incident everywhere, because you have to end it. You cannot pursue peace by a cycle of violence.”
The Labour MP Luciana Berger retorted: “Being present is the same as being involved.
"When I attend a memorial, my presence alone, whether I lay a wreath or not, demonstrates my association and support.
"There can also never be a 'fitting memorial' for terrorists. Where is the apology?”
Being “present” is the same as being involved. When I attend a memorial, my presence alone, whether I lay a wreath or not, demonstrates my association & support. There can also never be a “fitting memorial” for terrorists. Where is the apology? https://t.co/TNQpCs6mN2— Luciana Berger (@lucianaberger) August 13, 2018
Mark Regev, the Israeli Ambassador to the UK, tweeted a picture of Labour leader Harold Wilson’s message to Israel after the Munich massacre, when he said: “There are no words adequate to express the sense of outrage at so grievous and calculated an act of terrorism. On behalf of the Opposition in Parliament and the Labour Party I send our deepest sympathy.”
Pictures of Mr Corbyn attending the ceremony at the Palestinian cemetery in Tunis show him standing next to Maher Taher, a senior member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which is designated as a terrorist organisation by the EU, the US, Canada and Australia.
Mr Corbyn has long been a supporter of the PLO, of which the PFLP is part. In 1985 he sponsored a Labour attempt to have the PLO recognised as “the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people”.
Black September, the terrorist group that carried out the Munich massacre, was a terrorist offshoot of the PLO.
It was created by Salah Khalaf, whose grave Mr Corbyn was pictured beside, and who is regarded as the mastermind behind the Munich killings.
Buried next to him is Fakhri Alomari, a senior member of Black September and adviser to Khalaf. A third grave contains the remains of Hayel Abdel-Hamid, chief of security for the PLO and another adviser to Khalaf.
All three men were gunned down in an attack on Abdel-Hamid’s home in Tunis in 1991, which was assumed to be the work of the Israeli intelligence service Mossad, following a 20-year campaign to hunt down and kill all those responsible for the Munich outrage. Bseiso, who was head of intelligence for the PLO, was shot dead in Paris the following year.
Last night it also emerged that the so-called "peace conference" Mr Corbyn had attended before visiting the graves had featured incendiary speeches from delegates comparing Israel to Isil.
According to Tunisian media reports from the time, one delegate, Othman Jerandi, a former Tunisian foreign minister, said: "Daesh and Israel are the same".
Images from the event show Mr Corbyn pictured sitting on stage wearing what appears to be headphones connected to a translation device.
The event, which was named in French, translates as the International Conference on Monitoring the Palestinian Political and Legal Situation in the Light of Israeli Aggression.
Joan Ryan, chair of Labour Friends of Israel, has written to Mr Corbyn warning that she is "deeply disturbed" by his attendance at the Tunis ceremony and demanding that he "offer a full and unreserved apology" to the widows of the Munich athletes.
In her letter, Ms Ryan also questioned why Mr Corbyn had visited the Palestinian graveyard but had failed to take up a long-standing invite to visit Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem.
"The contrast between that failure and your trip to Tunis is a stark one, and I would suggest that you may wish to consider the message that it sends to the Jewish community in Britain and the people of Israel,” she said.
Rebuttals and climbdowns: How the Tunis controversy unfolded
When details of Jeremy Corbyn’s trip to a Palestinian cemetery in Tunisia emerged last year, the Labour leader was quick to shoot down suggestions the event involved tributes to the terror cell behind the Munich Massacre.
Asked about revelations published by The Telegraph and The Sunday Times, which suggested Mr Corbyn had visited in 2014 the grave of Atef Bseiso, an alleged Black September member, he replied: “absolutely not”.
Bseiso, who is buried in Tunis along with dozens of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces, was allegedly assassinated by Mossad agents in Paris in 1992 over his apparent links to the murder of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics.
His grave was one of several that Mr Corbyn and a delegation of Palestinian politicians were alleged to have paid their respects to during a service to honour the 47 people killed during the Israeli bombing of the Palestine Liberation Organisation’s headquarters in the Tunisian capital in 1985.
Although Mr Corbyn’s denial was categorical, speculation continued to abound, not least because an article he had written days after the visit appeared to contradict his statement.
'Wreaths were laid'
On October 5 2014, he detailed at length in his regular Morning Star column the highlights of his trip, including the visit to the cemetery.
Tellingly, however, he noted that “wreaths were laid at the grave of those who died on that day” before adding: “[and] others killed by Mossad agents in Paris in 1991”.
Many interpreted this to be an admission that the delegation had indeed laid a wreath at Bseiso’s grave (although he was killed a year after Mr Corbyn claimed in the piece).
There are no known cases of Mossad agents assassinating Palestinians in Paris in the year he cited.
Whilst the controversy was quickly forgotten during the chaos of the general election, this week the row was reignited when images taken during the service were published for the first time by The Daily Mail.
They show the Labour leader holding a wreath feet from a plaque resting beside the graves of Black September members, and later joining in an Islamic prayer.
The paper claimed that the monument to the 1985 massacre was 15 yards away from where he was pictured.
I was present when it was laid. I don’t think I was involved in it
Jeremy Corbyn, Sky News interview August 13
Faced with a fresh backlash and still reeling from Labour’s anti-Semitism crisis, on Friday, a spokesman for Mr Corbyn stuck to their original line, insisting that the commemoration was for ”all those that had died in the  air attack”. They added that he had engaged in the Islamic prayer “out of respect”.
However, the explanation did little to placate the anger of the Jewish community, and within 24 hours Mr Corbyn was accused by widows of the murdered Munich athletes of “maliciousness, cruelty and stupidity”.
Hitting back, Labour’s press team insisted that they were being “misled” by the media and reiterated their claims that he did not honour “those responsible for the Munich killings”.
By then their claims had already come under intense scrutiny from journalists, who highlighted that Mr Corbyn had been pictured next to the graves and had in his own newspaper column admitted to being present when the wreaths were laid.
Several hours later on Monday morning, three days after the pictures emerged, the official line appeared to be softening as a spokesman for Labour refused to specify which 1991 victims Mr Corbyn was referencing in Morning Star article.
Speaking to the The Telegraph, they appeared to put distance between Mr Corbyn and the functions of the service, stating that he had not admitted to laying the wreath. “Wreaths were also laid - it’s a passive voice,” they added.
At 1pm, Mr Corbyn finally appeared to acknowledge for the first time that the delegation had indeed commemorated the Black September members.
In an interview with Sky News, he admitted that a wreath was "indeed laid by some of those who were at the conference for those who were killed in Paris in 1992".
He added: "I was present when it was laid. I don’t think I was involved in it. I was there because I wanted to see a fitting memorial to everyone who’s died in every terrorist incident everywhere, because you have to end it. You cannot pursue peace by a cycle of violence.”