Former British MP George Galloway says that if elected Mayor of London he will refuse to host any Israeli counterparts – but insists he will not try to make the UK capital "Israel-free."
Speaking to Jewish News, the notorious anti-Israel demagogue said he would boycott mayors from Israeli cities if he took office. However, he added that only the deputy mayor had the power to enact a full boycott of the Jewish state.
"I would not be able to do that, but the mayoralty could," he said. "The deputy mayor could."
Galloway, who leads the far-left Respect Party, was the subject of a police investigation last year over charges of racism, after it was revealed he had declared his Bradford West constituency "Israel-free."
Earlier this year he was ousted from his seat in parliament by an overwhelming majority of voters in Bradford, many of whom had grown disgruntled over his poor record in office and his campaign team's dirty tactics during the general elections.
Galloway accepted news of his defeat with a typically verbose speech decrying the fact that "the Zionists" would celebrate the result.
But speaking to Jewish News Galloway insisted he would not bring his Israel obsession with him if elected as London Mayor. Elections for the position – the most powerful directly-elected political position in the UK – are due to take place in May 2016.
He insisted he would not "be using the London mayoralty to constantly talk about Israel. I will not. I’m not running to be the president, the pope, foreign secretary or prime minister. The word Israel didn’t cross my lips until you raised it."
Asked what he would say to Londoners "sickened" at the prospect of him being elected as their mayor – particularly British Jews, many of whom have accused him of fanning the flames of anti-Semitism – Galloway responded: "Anybody that’s sickened by the idea of the people of London’s choice has chosen to alienate themselves."
"So my answer to your question is ‘nothing’. Except I have all my life opposed all racism, including anti-Semitism, which is the most deadly form of racism. I have never – will never – think a thought, say a word or do a thing which can be described as racist or anti-Semitic."
Taking aim at the Jewish paper, he added: "I realise that so pervasive is the Zionist ideology that you and your newspaper represent that that’s actually not all that important to many of your readers. They are more concerned about the defence of the policies of a foreign government. There’s nothing I can do about that. I certainly cannot start apologising or being silent on the policies of a foreign government."