An aerial view over Rochdale as Labour candidate for Rochdale, Azhar Ali launches his campaign for the by-election
Ali has since apologised for the “offensive” and “false” comments.
He said: “I apologise unreservedly to the Jewish community for my comments which were deeply offensive, ignorant and false.
“Hamas’s horrific terror attack was the responsibility of Hamas alone, and they are still holding hostages who must be released.
“October 7 was the greatest loss of Jewish life in a single day since the Holocaust, and Jews in the UK and across the world are living in fear of rising antisemitism. I will urgently apologise to Jewish leaders for my inexcusable comments.
Photographs of some of those taken hostage by Hamas during their recent attacks
“The Labour Party has changed unrecognisably under Keir Starmer’s leadership, he has my full support in delivering the change Britain needs.”
Labour MP Pat McFadden, who serves as the party’s national campaign co-ordinator, today confirmed Ali remains on the ticket as voters head to the polls of February 29.
Pro-Palestine former MP George Galloway is standing in the contest.
He represented constituents in Bethnal Green & Bow and Bradford West as leader of Respect.
Labour candidate for Rochdale, Azhar Ali, has apologised
However, he finished in third with 21.9 per cent of the vote when he stood in Batley & Spen in 2021.
Galloway could look to benefit from discontent among Muslim voters with Starmer’s stance on Israel.
Around 20 per cent of the electorate and 30 per cent of the population of the Lancashire town are Asian.
Labour retained the safe seat in 2019 with a reduced majority of 9,668.
Reform UK is putting up former Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk as its candidate in the pro-Brexit seat.