UK Politics

David Ward France solidarity tweet 'in bad taste' say Liberal Democrats

Lib Dem MP David Ward
Image caption Mr Ward is the MP for Bradford East

The Lib Dems say remarks by one of their MPs during French solidarity marches were "clearly in bad taste".

Bradford East MP David Ward tweeted "Je suis Palestinian" as marchers gathered on Sunday following the terror attacks in Paris that left 17 people dead.

He also tweeted that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's presence in Paris "makes me feel sick".

The Israeli ambassador urged Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg to take action over the "shocking" remarks.

More than three million people took part in the unity marches across France, with many displaying the slogan "Je suis Charlie" in a reference to the satirical magazine attacked by Islamist gunmen.

Police officers and a kosher supermarket were also attacked.

Ambassador Daniel Taub, who has previously written to Mr Clegg about other comments by Mr Ward, said the latest tweets were a "disgraceful attempt to delegitimise Israel".

Image copyright AP
Image caption More than three million people across France marched for unity

In his letter to Mr Clegg, which has been published on Twitter, the ambassador said he was writing again to "express my abhorrence" at Mr Ward's comments, which he said "exhibits a callous disregard for the Jews of France, many of whom look to Israel as they are increasingly targeted merely because of their religion".

Mr Taub said Mr Ward's seeming "impunity" within the Lib Dems was "more shocking still".

A Liberal Democrat spokesman said: "David Ward does not speak for the Liberal Democrats on this issue.

"He has well known and strongly held views on this issue but this tweet was clearly in bad taste.

"The Liberal Democrats believe fundamentally in the values of tolerance, openness and compassion, values that have been reaffirmed in the last week in the response of millions to the terrorist attacks in France."

The spokesman said the party's sympathies were with the loved ones of people caught up in the attacks, and urged people to "come together in solidarity and in defence of the freedoms that we hold dear".

It is not the first time Mr Ward has faced criticism over remarks posted on Twitter.

He was suspended from the Lib Dem parliamentary party in July 2013 and had the whip withdrawn for three months over comments he made about Israel.

It came after a long-running dispute with the party's leadership over his use of language and comments he made about "the Jews".

And in July last year he gave a "categorical apology" after tweeting: "The big question is - if I lived in #Gaza would I fire a rocket? - probably yes".

He later said his comments were not in support of firing rockets into Israel, and apologised if he had given that impression.

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