LONDON – In the second attack on Israel by Liberal Democrat politicians in the same week that the party’s leader said the party got it wrong on Israel, Jenny Tonge claimed on Friday that Israel’s treatment of Palestinians is the root cause of terrorism worldwide.

Possibly “Holocaust guilt” allows this treatment to go unchecked, Tonge said, adding that it might also be the “power of the pro-Israel lobby” in the UK and US.

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The Liberal Democrat peer was speaking in the House of Lords at the Strategic Defense and Security Review, which sets out how the British government will deliver the priorities identified in its national security strategy.

On the issue of world conflict prevention, Tonge then said: “It is a disgrace to us all that problems such as Kashmir and Palestine are still alienating Muslims all over the world.

“The treatment of Palestinians by Israel is held up as an example of how the West treats Muslims,” she said, “and is at the root cause of terrorism worldwide.”

“Even [the Quartet’s Middle East envoy] Tony Blair has now admitted this publicly,” she claimed.

“Why do we let it continue? Is it Holocaust guilt? We should be guilty – of course we should. Is it the power of the pro-Israel lobby here and in the USA?” The peer went on say that “cynics might think” Britain is at the ready to help Israel attack Iran.

“Or is it the need, maybe, to have an aircraft carrier called Israel in the Middle East, from which to launch attacks on countries such as Iran? The cynic might think that that is why HMS Ark Royal and the Harriers [fighter jets] can be dispensed with [as part of UK defense cuts] – [since] we already have a static “Ark Royal” in a strategic position, armed to the teeth and ready to fight, provided that we do not offend Israel,” she said.

Tonge, a lifelong anti-Israel activist, continued: “I feel sorry for the people of Israel sometimes. Their government’s policies have made that country the cause of a lot of the world’s problems, yet now they are seen in the middle as the remedy and the base for the West to fight back.”

The party has distanced itself from Tonge’s comments, which “do not reflect the views of the Liberal Democrats,” a spokesman told The Jerusalem Post on Saturday. “Indeed, last week [party leader] Nick Clegg stressed that Israel’s right to thrive in peace and security is non-negotiable for Liberal Democrats.”

Last week, Liberal Democrat peer Lord Phillips told a meeting of the radical fringe group Palestine Solidarity Campaign in parliament that “Europe cannot think straight about Israel because of the Holocaust, and America is in the grip of the well-organized Jewish lobby.”

These two incidents came in the same week that Liberal Democrat leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg told a meeting of Liberal Democrat supporters of Israel that his party had got it wrong on Israel.

“I’m not certain that we have always made ourselves clearly heard on this, so let me say it again now: Israel’s right to thrive in peace and security is nonnegotiable for Liberal Democrats.

“No other country so continually has its right to exist called into question as does Israel, and that is intolerable. There can be no solution to the problems of the Middle East that does not include a full and proper recognition of Israel by all parties to the conflict,” he said.

“Campaigning for justice for the Palestinian people has been heard loud and clear from the Liberal Democrats, [and] it should always have been accompanied, equally loudly and equally clearly, by an awareness of the security challenges faced by Israel, and of the right of Israel to defend itself against the threats that it continually faces,” Clegg added.

In February, Clegg sacked Tonge as health spokeswoman in the Lords after she suggested that Israel set up an inquiry to refute allegations that its medical teams in Haiti “harvested” organs of earthquake victims.

It is not the first time the Liberal Democrat politician has been sacked by the party for her comments on Israel.

In 2006, then party leader Menzies Campbell dissociated the party from Tonge and condemned her for “clear anti-Semitic connotations” after she said that “the pro-Israeli lobby has got its grips on the Western world, its financial grips. I think they have probably got a certain grip on our party.”

In 2004, Tonge was sacked as a spokeswoman on children’s issues after suggesting she could consider becoming a suicide bomber.

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