Ken Livingstone has stood by his recent comments about Hitler, saying he was “not sorry for telling the truth”.
He said he “regretted” the disruption his comments had caused but “I believe what I said is true”.
The former London mayor was suspended from the Labour party on Thursday after saying Hitler had supported Zionism in the 1930s.
He made the comments while defending Labour MP Naz Shah over accusations she was anti-Semitic.
During an interview on LBC, Mr Livingstone repeatedly refused to apologise for making the comments, saying he was sorry if his views had upset Jewish people but he had simply made a “statement of fact” that had also been made by Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“I never regret saying something that is true,” he said.
“How can I have hurt and offended the Jewish community when the prime minister of Israel said exactly the same thing?”
“If you look at what this is all about, it’s not about anti-Semitism in the Labour Party… What this is all about is actually the struggle of the embittered old Blairite MPs to try to get rid of Jeremy Corbyn.”
- QA: Labour anti-Semitism row
Labour is to hold an independent inquiry into anti-Semitism and other forms of racism in its ranks.
The inquiry, led by Shami Chakrabarti, former head of campaign group Liberty, will consult with the Jewish community and other minority groups, after claims there was a strain of party members who held anti-Semitic views.
The row erupted after Ms Shah was found to have made comments on Facebook before becoming an MP, including a suggestion that Israel should be moved to the United States. She later apologised and was suspended from the party.
But Mr Livingstone defended the Bradford West MP, saying anti-Zionism was not the same as anti-Semitism.
He told BBC London: “When Hitler won his election in 1932, his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel. He was supporting Zionism before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews.”
He was later confronted outside the BBC’s studios by Labour MP John Mann, who accused him in front of TV cameras of being a “Nazi apologist”.
Mr Livingstone was later suspended by Labour leader Mr Corbyn, who said there had been “grave concerns” about the language used.
Jonathan Ashworth, a member of Labour’s shadow cabinet, told BBC Radio 4 that Mr Livingstone’s comments were “deeply offensive, it was vile”, while Labour MP Ruth Smeeth said it had been a “horrendous” week for the party but she hoped the inquiry would “help us now rebuild”.