UK Deputy PM Nick Clegg_311.
(photo credit: Reuters)
British MP David Ward has been summoned by his party chiefs over controversial
comments he made recently, associating Israel’s actions with the Holocaust, that
drew the ire of England’s Jewish community.
British newspaper The
Independent reported on Friday that the Liberal Democrats said “further
decisions” would be made after Jewish leaders demanded action.
ago during the signing of a Holocaust memorial book in Parliament, Ward stated
that while he was “honoring those who died during the Holocaust,” he was also
“saddened that the Jews, who suffered unbelievable levels of persecution during
the Holocaust, could within a few years of liberation from the death camps be
inflicting atrocities on Palestinians in the new State of Israel and continue to
do so on a daily basis in the West Bank and Gaza.”
Following a public
outcry, Ward was formally censured by Alistair Carmichael, chief whip of the
Liberal Democrat party for his comments.
However, in an updated post on
his website in which he apologized for “the unintended offense which [his] words
caused,” he also justified his earlier criticism.
“My criticisms of
actions since 1948 in the Palestinian territories in the name of the State of
Israel remain as strong as ever,” he wrote.
“I will continue to make
criticisms of actions in Palestine in the strongest possible terms for as long
as Israel continues to oppress the Palestinian people.”
statement remains on Ward’s website.
In an email exchange on Wednesday
night, Britain’s Jewish News website asked Ward when he would remove the
statement from his site.
Instead of offering a date, Ward wrote: “Can you
ask the Board of Deputies [of British Jews] if they are in agreement that I
should replace the words “the Jews” with the Jewish community” – if so, I am
perfectly happy to do so.”
Following this correspondence, the Liberal
Democrats called a meeting Thursday morning with the Board of Deputies and other
groups over the matter. Later in the day, the groups released a joint statement
saying that “the chief whip has assured us that Mr. Ward’s latest comments will
be dealt with as a fresh issue.”Sam Sokol contributed to this report.