Lib Dems wavering over disciplinary action for David Ward
Liberal Democarat MP David Ward has apologised for his Twitter comment that he would also probably fire rockets against Israel if he was living in Gaza.
He said: "I condemn the actions of Hamas and my comments were not in support of firing rockets into Israel. If they gave the opposite impression, I apologise."
A spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats said Mr Ward’s statement was a "categorical apology. In light of this apology, the party and the whips will decide in due course if further disciplinary action should be taken."
Immediately after he sent the tweet, a spokesman said party leader Nick Clegg "utterly condemned" the comments.
On Tuesday evening Mr Ward tweeted: "The big question is — if I lived in #Gaza would I fire a rocket? - probably yes." He sent another tweet two hours later which said: "Ich bin ein #palestinian — the West must make up its mind — which side is it on".
In an interview with BBC Radio 5 Live, Mr Ward refused to apologise for the tweets and said rockets were being fired at Israel because the West had failed the people of Gaza.
Lord Monroe Palmer, Vice President of the Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel said that Nick Clegg’s power to take major disciplinary action was severely limited due to party procedures. "We don’t have the ability in the Liberal Democrats for Nick Clegg to say to David Ward, ‘get out tomorrow’", he said. "I imagine that Nick Clegg would wish that he did have that power."
He added: "When you are a complete nonentity like David Ward it seems quite amazing that anyone takes any notice of him, despite how awful his remarks are — and they are awful."
Israeli ambassador Daniel Taub said: "Mr Ward has, in the past, made hurtful and shocking statements regarding Israel and the Holocaust, but there surely has been none so abhorrent and damaging as his latest statement justifying these attacks."
Former Liberal Democrat MEP Edward McMillan-Scott intervened on behalf of Mr Ward calling the Board of Deputies a "frightful bag of disputatious Jews".
Mr McMillan-Scott later apologised and denied antisemitism. The Board said they were still deeply concerned and regarded the apology as "wholly inadequate".
Mr Ward’s tweets were equally condemned by both Labour and the Conservative party with Tory chairman Grant Shapps describing his remarks as "incitement to violence" and "completely irresponsible".