UK: Lib Dems summon MP over Jews, Israel remark

Liberal Democrats say "further decisions" to be taken on Ward's comments about "Israeli atrocities" during Holocaust book signing.

February 8, 2013 16:30
1 minute read.
UK Deputy PM Nick Clegg

UK Deputy PM Nick Clegg_311. (photo credit: Reuters)


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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.

Two weeks 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.”

The original 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.

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