George Galloway pledges to hound Israel over 'genocide in Gaza'

Winner of controversial Rochdale by-election takes seat in UK parliament and hosts press conference with British media

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George Galloway has pledged to use the “genocide in Gaza” as the key platform on which he will fight both the Conservatives and Labour in parliament.

Britain’s newest MP condemned both Israel’s actions and allegedly biased reporting in the British press.

The veteran politician comfortably won last Thursday’s Rochdale by-election after Labour’s candidate Azhar Ali made alleged anti-Semitic comments and lost his party’s support.

Addressing the Westminster press just after he had sworn the MPs' official oath of allegiance to King Charles III, Mr Galloway said he would use his first speech to highlight the plight of Palestinians in Gaza.

Referring to the International Court of Justice as the “highest court in the world”, he stated that Israel would stand trial for the “crime of genocide” in Gaza. “It doesn’t get much more serious than that,” he warned.

Asked if he would support a Hamas government in the territory, he said the group should be allowed to govern if it was the “will of the people”.

However, he added that “I would not have voted for Hamas”, and proclaimed himself a “PLO man” and Yasser Arafat supporter, referring to the former leader of the Palestine Liberation Organisation who died in 2004.

When asked about growing concerns over MPs’ security following an increase in threats since the Israel-Gaza conflict began, he berated the media for failing to report a politically motivated physical assault on him in 2014. He said the attack was over his comments about Israel and left his head permanently scarred, which was why he now wore a hat.

Mr Galloway, 69, also said that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak would use Gaza and Muslims as a “wedge issue” in the next general election. “It will be about Muslims and taking away their civil liberties in this country,” he said.

Asked about the future of the Israeli state, he commented that it “will exist until it doesn’t” stating that it could “morph”. He said the same had happened to the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia and might happen to the UK.

Asked by The National what his solution might be to the Israel-Gaza conflict, he remarked that he did not “have enough time” to explain.

Inside parliament he later told this newspaper that “this has been a crisis for 76 years in which there was a raging war going on, I've spoken about it, written about it, broadcast about it so many thousands of times”.

An hour earlier, a short distance away, the fervent pro-Palestinian politician was sworn in as an MP, dispelling speculation that he might have converted to Islam as he swore his oath on the Bible.

Accompanied by two fellow MPs, Father of the House Peter Bottomley, a Conservative, and Scottish Alba MP Neale Hanvey, Mr Galloway bowed three times to the Speaker's chair before swearing the oath.

The house sat in near-silence as he signed his name on the parliamentary register while his wife and family looked on from the gallery above.

Updated: March 04, 2024, 7:47 PM