Nick Clegg reveals frustration over David Ward's Israel comments
Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg
Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has revealed his frustration over controversial MP David Ward's comments on Israel.
Mr Clegg said he had discussed the issue with the Bradford East representative until he was "blue in the face".
In an interview with the Bradford Telegraph and Argus, the Lib Dem leader said he found it "totally unacceptable" that Mr Ward had continued to raise questions about Israel's right to exist.
The party whip was temporarily removed from Mr Ward last month following a series of tweets he sent about "apartheid" in Israel and how long the "Zionists" would last.
Mr Clegg told the paper: “I believe and my party believes – and David Ward is a representative of the Liberal Democrats – in a two-state solution.
"It’s not consistent with our values and our policy to start raising questions about the existence of the state of Israel.
"That’s why I took the unprecedented step, after due process, to suspend the whip – the first time I have done that to a Lib Dem MP.”
But Mr Clegg made no reference in the interview to Mr Ward's most offensive claims in January, ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day, that "the Jews" had afflicted "atrocities on the Palestinians".
New comments made by Mr Ward to his local paper today suggest he will not back down. He criticised Lib Dem chief whip Alistair Carmichael, suggesting he believed Mr Ward was "courting the Muslim vote".
Mr Ward said: "But that’s damned insulting both to Muslims and the white community I represent in Bradford, who regularly come up to me and offer their support.”