Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

MP apologises for Palestine comment

A Liberal Democrat MP has apologised over comments about Israel made in the run-up to Holocaust Memorial Day

A Liberal Democrat MP facing disciplinary action after accusing "the Jews" of atrocities against Palestinians has issued a public apology for causing "unintended offence".

David Ward's comments - posted on his website ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day - were condemned by party chiefs and sparked a furious backlash.

He initially strongly defended the article and hit out at criticisms by the party, which has summoned him to the Whip's Office for a meeting on Monday morning.

But in a new post he said he "never for a moment intended to criticise or offend the Jewish people as a whole, either as a race or as a people of faith, and apologise sincerely for the unintended offence which my words caused".

"I recognise of course the deep sensitivities of these issues at all times, and particularly on occasions of commemoration such as this weekend," he added.

Mr Ward said that in raising the treatment of the Palestinians he had simply been "trying to make clear that everybody needs to learn the lessons of the Holocaust".

"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," he added.

The Bradford East MP composed his original posting after signing a Holocaust memorial book in the city, describing Auschwitz as "the Nazi concentration and extermination camp which is the site of the largest mass murder in history".

But in the addition which caused the uproar, he added: "Having visited Auschwitz twice - once with my family and once with local schools - I am 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."

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