LABOUR have come under fire after parachuting a member of its national executive who has claimed the United Nations is antisemitic into a safe seat in the north of England.

Luke Akehurst, who lives in Oxford, has been selected by Labour to run in North Durham – a safe seat some 250 miles away.

Akehurst, the director of the “We Believe in Israel” lobby group, has been a fierce defender of Israel’s military action in Gaza, insisting that it is neither “disproportionate” nor “genocide”.

Akehurst has further said he believes that Israel should have control over the Golan Heights, an area where its settlements are considered illegal under international law.

In 2022, asked directly if he believed the United Nations was antisemitic because its security council had said that “Israel’s establishment of settlements in Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, had no legal validity”, Akehurst responded: “Yes.”

Elsewhere, in posts on social media which are still live, Akehurst has claimed that video footage appearing to show child victims of an attack on Al Shifa hospital in Gaza was “staged”.

Data shared by Byline Times journalist Adam Bienkov showed that Akehurst had deleted more than 2000 tweets in the week before his candidacy was announced.

A Keir Starmer ally, Akehurst is a member of the Labour party national executive committee (NEC).

Labour announced he had been selected to run for North Durham late on Wednesday night, and have faced strong backlash for the decision.

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Journalist Ash Sarkar wrote: “Accusing the UN of being antisemitic is totally fine social media conduct in Labour's eyes.

“A Muslim woman sharing her experiences of Islamophobia, and liking a Jon Stewart video, is not.”

The reference was to Faiza Shaheen, who was reportedly told she could not run as a Labour candidate in Chingford and Woodford Green in north east London on Wednesday evening.

The Muslim Association of Britain condemned Akehurst’s selection, calling him an "extremist" and sharing an image of him wearing a t-shirt stating: “I’m literally a Zionist shitlord.”

The association wrote: “On the day we hear @UKLabour will be blocking Diane Abbott from standing as a Labour MP, they announce that this man, who's a director of a lobby group called ‘We Believe in Israel’ will stand as an MP.

“They're not even hiding it, the UK Labour Party is firmly in the grasp of right-wing extremists.”

On his profile on the We Believe in Israel site, Akehurst is described as “not Jewish but … a committed Zionist all his life”.

LibDem councillor and Westminster candidate Theo Jupp wrote on social media: “The organisation @lukeakehurst runs full-throatedly backs the Israeli government’s murderous Rafah offensive. Hideous.”

Labour have been approached for comment.