Lord Phillips denies PSC anti-Israel remarks

By Jessica Elgot, November 11, 2010
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Lib Dem peer Lord Phillips

Lib Dem peer Lord Phillips

The Liberal Democrat peer Lord Phillips of Sudbury has denied questioning Israel’s right to exist and claims he once volunteered to fight for the Jewish state.

The comments were said to have been made at a meeting of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign at the House of Commons last week.

On his Jewish Chronicle blog, the peer, who has frequently spoken out against Israel, said he had “emphasised that I believe ‘passionately’ in the right of Israel to exist in freedom and security, adding that I believed in a similar right for Palestine. I did not also say, but could have, that I volunteered to fight for Israel in 1973.”

He added: “Israel is in my view destroying its long-term security and harmony inter alia and particularly by its military occupation and colonisation of the West Bank, now extending to 42 per cent of that territory, according to the latest Foreign Office estimate.

“I will not be deterred from speaking out against that self-defeating, provocative and illegal policy and its awful impact on the Palestinians.”

At the meeting, Lord Phillips advocated a full boycott of Israel and said the country’s actions across a range of issues were “illegal”. He is reported to have said: ““Lieberman is more racist than anyone on the Palestinian side” and “America is in the grip of a well-organised Jewish lobby.

Zionist Federation co-vice chair Jonathan Hoffman was thrown out of the meeting after attempting to question Lord Phillips on his views of Hamas’ charter

Labour MPs Jeremy Corbyn and Andy Slaughter and Viva Palestina’s Kevin Ovenden also spoke at the meeting.

A spokesperson for the Board of Deputies said the Liberal Democrat chief whip was investigating the comments made by Lord Phillips during the meeting.

“The Board of Deputies, Jewish Leadership Council and CST confirm that a formal complaint has been lodged with the Deputy Prime Minister in his capacity as Liberal Democrat Party Leader.

“This complaint was followed up by an urgent meeting between the CEOs of all three bodies and Lib Dem Chief Whip Alastair Carmichael.”

Last updated: 2:38pm, November 11 2010