A Conservative MP who has long been one of Israel’s most vociferous critics has announced he will stand down at the next general election.
Crispin Blunt said in a statement posted on his website on Monday, that after “seven increasingly tumultuous parliaments, this will be my last”.
Blunt, 61, has been the MP for Reigate since 1997 and has chaired the foreign affairs select committee.
He has repeatedly caused anger amongst many in the Jewish community, particularly over his anti-Israel stance.
In December, during a parliamentary debate Blunt suggested that terrorist group Hamas had a right to hit “legitimate targets” in Israel.
Arguing against Home Secretary Priti Patel’s move to fully proscribe Hamas in this country, Blunt added “people have a right to resist and we must understand that we are talking about an occupied people”.
At the Conservative Party conference in Manchester in 2019 Blunt accused Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis of demanding a “special status” for Britain’s Jews and has backed calls for “eliminating subsidies” to the Community Security Trust to “save taxpayers’ money.”
In comments made at a fringe event Blunt also failed to distance himself from calls to campaign against “infant circumcision” and against the “stunned slaughter of animals.”
A former chair of the Council for the Advancement of Arab-British Understanding Blunt was criticised in 1999 after telling the House of Commons he believed “a Holocaust of equal proportions has happened to the people of Palestine who have been evicted from their homes and suffered disruption to their lives”.
Last month Blunt drew widespread criticism for defending his friend and fellow Conservative MP Imran Ahmad Khan after his conviction for sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy.
He later withdrew the comments and apologised, saying he did not “condone any form of abuse” and strongly believed in the “independence and integrity of the justice system”.
Explaining his decision to stand down as an MP, Blunt added: “In looking forward to the next two years or so of this parliament, whilst securing my re-election is no longer an interest, there will be continued joy in representing the citizens I’ve had the honour to serve for 25 years.”
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