Baroness Jenny Tonge Quits As A Liberal Democrat Peer After Israel Jibe
Baroness Jenny Tonge has resigned the Lib Dem whip in the House of Lords after refusing to apologise for claiming that Israel would not "last forever".
The Liberal Democrat peer, who once said she would consider becoming a suicide bomber if she were Palestinian, was roundly criticised for the remarks. According to reports on the Guido Fawkes blog she quit as a Liberal Democrat peer after refusing an ultimatum from Nick Clegg to apologise or resign.
Speaking at an event at Middlesex University last Thursday, Baroness Tonge said Israel would one day lose the support of the United States and would then "reap what they have sown".
"Beware Israel," she said. "Israel is not going to be there forever in its present performance. One day the United States of America will get sick of giving £70 billion a year to Israel."
The event was recorded and the video of her comments emerged this week:
MP Chris Bryant said it showed why the Lords needed reforming, tweeting:
Lib Dem peer Tonge said she thought of Israel as "America's aircraft carrier in the Middle East" but that one day people in the United States would say "enough is enough".
"It will not go on forever, it will not go on forever and Israel will lose its support, then they will reap what they have sown," she added.
In a statement given to the Guido Fawkes website, which first reported the remarks, the Liberal Democrats said Baroness Tonge did "not speak for the party on Israel/Palestine".
"Her presence and comments at this event were extremely ill-advised and ill judged. The tone of the debate at this event was wholly unacceptable and adds nothing to the peace process. The Liberal Democrats are wholehearted supporters of a peaceful two-state solution to the Israel/Palestine issue," the statement added.
In 2010 Baroness Tonge was sacked by Nick Clegg as a health spokesperson for the party after she called for an inquiry into allegations Israeli troops were involved in organ trafficking in Haiti. Clegg said her comments were "wrong, distasteful and provocative".
And she was sacked from the Lib Dem front bench in 2004 after she said she "might just consider" becoming a suicide bomber if she were Palestinian.
Ed Miliband said the Lib Dem leader should condemn the remarks as there was "no place in politics for those who question the existence of the state of Israel".
Labour MP Ian Austin told The Guardian that Nick Clegg should make the peer withdraw her comments.
"There is a cross-party consensus that a two-state solution is the only way to bring peace to the Middle East. At the very least, Nick Clegg must make Baroness Tonge withdraw these remarks," he said.
And Baroness Tonge was dismissed as an "irrelevant, siren and marginal voice" by the Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel group.
Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg said: "These remarks were wrong and offensive and do not reflect the values of the Liberal Democrats.
"I asked Baroness Tonge to withdraw her remarks and apologise for the offence she has caused. She has refused to do so and will now be leaving the party.
"The Liberal Democrats have a proud record of campaigning for the rights of Palestinians, and that will continue.
"But we are crystal clear in our support for a two state solution."