Hamas on Thursday hailed Jeremy Corbyn, the frontrunner for the leadership of the British Labor party, for his "sympathetic" stance on the Israel-Palestinian conflict, The Telegraph reported.
Senior officials with the group, which rules Gaza, said Corbyn is a “welcome contrast” to other British politicians, most notably former Prime Minister Tony Blair, whom they mistrust and accuse of blindly supporting Israel.
"I find that he has very good sympathy and support for the Palestinian cause and the Palestinian struggle and he is frankly against the occupation, against the racist policy of Israel, against settlements," Ghazi Hamad, Hamas' deputy foreign minister, told The Telegraph, though he admitted that he had never met Corbyn but was judging him based on his speeches and media reports.
"According to his statements, I feel that he could be very close to the Palestinians, the Arabs and to the Muslims. He supports all the right things in the world regarding freedom, justice, dignity, the right of people under occupation to get their national rights,” added Hamad.
"If he really became the head of the Labor party, he can make a big change to the image of Britain because people here in Palestine feel that Britain has a historical responsibility, in giving Israel the golden chance of establishing their state on the account of the Palestinian people," he told The Telegraph.
Corbyn is currently seen as favorite to be elected Labor leader, despite his disturbing links to a wide range of extremists, spanning far-right holocaust deniers, an anti-Semitic Christian minister and Islamist terrorist groups.
Those links – as well as his highly controversial leftist economic policies – have drawn criticism from the British Jewish community and senior party figures alike.
Speaking to The Telegraph in the Hamas foreign ministry in Gaza City, Hamad stopped short of saying that the group would regard Corbyn as a friend if he were elected.
"In order to be careful. I don't want this word to be used against him," he said. "But we expect him to translate what he said before into actions – to move from words to deeds.
"We expect Corbyn and Britain to change the policy and to understand that the struggle of the Palestinian people against the occupation is fair. And that Hamas is not a terrorist organization. This can prove that he really can be a good friend for the Palestinians,” said Hamad.
"I expect that Israel will take some measures against him and try to distort his image, to destroy him. They want to show that Hamas is an animal with two horns, a dragon,” he charged.
"So I hope that Corbyn will have more courage to meet these challenges and to stand against the Israeli campaign against him."
Despite Corbyn's friendly rhetoric, noted The Telegraph, no leading Hamas figures recall having met him, or even having been familiar with him before he emerged as a leadership candidate.
Nevertheless, Hamad told the newspaper Corbyn could be invited to visit the coastal enclave if he became Labor leader.
"I think he will be welcomed. All the people would welcome him," he said. "According to his vision, I think people will find that they can find some common background with him, that they can talk to him."