Cameron and Corbyn clash over antisemitism and Islamophobia at PMQs

David Cameron and Jeremy Corbyn have clashed over antisemitism and Islamophobia in a heated Prime Minister's Questions (PMQs) ahead of local elections on Thursday.

Prime Minister David Cameron targeted Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn over a previous statement that Palestinian terrorist groups Hamas and Hizbollah were his "friends".Reuters

The Prime Minister repeatedly grilled the Labour leader over his reference to Hamas and Hezbollah as his "friends" and said they are "terrorist groups who believe in killing Jews, not just in Israel but around the world".

He asked the leader of the opposition: "Will he take this opportunity and withdraw that they are his friends?"

Corbyn insisted Labour was "an anti-racist party" and he "absolutely does not approve of these organisations".

He said: "Obviously anyone who commits racist or antisemitic acts is not a friend of mine. I am very clear about that."

The Labour leader then turned on Cameron and said the Prime Minister should reflect on the way Zac Goldsmith's campaign for London mayor has smeared Labour candidate Sadiq Khan, who is a Muslim. He accused the Conservatives of running a "repulsive campaign of hate" against Khan.

Corbyn went on to say Labour has set up an inquiry into antisemitism and Cameron should follow suit and set up one into racism in the Tory party.

In response, the Prime Minister restated his allegations that Khan shared a platform with extremists to shouts of "shameful" from Labour MPs.

The toxic exchange came after the home affairs committee of MPs confirmed it will call the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and Ken Livingstone to give evidence to an inquiry into antisemitism.

It is unusual for such senior politicians to appear before select committees and the decision highlights that antisemitism has become a major political topic.

Naz Shah, the Labour MP suspended for anti-Semitic comments on her Facebook page, was formerly a member of the committee. She has stepped aside from her role.

Keith Vaz, the chairman of the committee, said on Tuesday: "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 antisemitism, and we will begin calling witnesses including the Community Security Trust, the Jewish Board of Deputies, Ken Livingstone, and the Prime Minister, Jeremy Corbyn and the Scottish National party's parliamentary group leader Angus Robertson."