Lib Dems on both sides of the divide


The Liberal Democrats wrapped up the party political conference season with events reflecting both sides of the Middle East conflict.

Lib Dem ministers had pushed for an arms embargo to be imposed on Israel during the Gaza conflict, but the issue was not discussed in any depth in the conference hall, with delegates in Glasgow concentrating on prospects for next year's general election.

Around the fringe the story was different. The party's Friends of Palestine group - which apologised earlier this year after posting antisemitic material on its Facebook page - held a session which saw delegates discussing whether Israel was a racist state, and if the country could be compared with Islamic State terrorists.

A meeting hosted by the Lib Dems Friends of Israel group (LDFI) looked at responses to the Gaza conflict and prospects for peace. Controversial MP David Ward was among those attending, as was Nick Clegg's chief of staff Jonathan Oates and deputy Israeli ambassador Eitan Na'eh.

LDFI chairman Gavin Stollar said: "We had an informed and useful debate on where next for peace in the Middle East. This was a good example of how important the pro-Israel voice is within the party."

Justice Minister Simon Hughes introduced a Holocaust Educational Trust fringe session on Monday, featuring Shoah survivor Mala Tribich, who spoke of her experiences in Bergen-Belsen.

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