POLITICS

David Ward, Lib Dem MP, Will Face No Disciplinary Action For 'Vile' Gaza Tweets

13/08/2014 16:15 BST | Updated 13/08/2014 16:59 BST
AP

The Liberal Democrats say they will take no disciplinary action against an MP who posted a tweet suggesting he might be ready to fire rockets from Gaza into Israel because they are were not "in any way anti-Semitic".

David Ward, the Lib Dem MP for Bradford East, initially apologised after he was accused of inciting violence following a post on Twitter last month in which he said: "The big question is - if I lived in Gaza would I fire a rocket? - probably yes."

In a second message, Ward doubled down and posted his own take on John F Kennedy's famous "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech:

At the time, the Tories reported Ward to the police for “encouragement of terrorism as defined by Section 1 (2) of the Terrorism Act 2006.”

But on Wednesday Lib Dem chief whip Don Foster said he did not believe Ward's comments were "in any way anti-Semitic" or motivated by anti-Semitic intentions, adding he did not believe the tweet brought the party into disrepute.

Ward accepted his tweet offended some people and has insisted he would make sure his comments in the future are "difficult to misinterpret" while also condemning violence from both Israelis and Palestinians, Foster said.

The chief whip said he took into account Ward's comments condemning violence on both sides before the tweet, his calls for a ceasefire, criticism of Hamas, explanation that the tweet sought to envisage how a Palestinian may feel and his apology.

Foster recognised his decision "will not satisfy some people".

Ward has had a long-running dispute with the Lib Dem leadership over his use of language with regard to Israel.

He was suspended from the parliamentary party in July 2013 and had the whip withdrawn for three months over similarly controversial comments.

In a statement, Foster said: "David has subsequently repeated his apology and placed it and his explanation on his website.

"In light of that apology, the assurance by David Ward that he would do all he could to ensure comments he made would be in a form that would be difficult to misinterpret, and that he will continue - in relation to the Israeli/Palestinian situation - to condemn violence on both sides and support moves for a cease fire, I do not intend to take further action in relation to the tweet.

"I am conscious that this decision will not satisfy some people. To them I would say, at a time of considerable international unease in the Middle East, comments have been made by politicians from all parties that have been unwelcome by some or other section of society.

"The question I have had to answer is not, did the comments by David Ward cause offence to some people (within the party or outside), but did they bring the party into disrepute?

"David accepts that his tweet did cause offence to some people.

"He recognises that the use of Twitter as a form of communication can lead to misinterpretation and accepts the need for greater care in the future.

"However, I do not believe it was in any way anti-Semitic or motivated by anti-Semitic intentions and I do not believe his tweet brought the party into disrepute.

"I believe that his statement including an apology on July 23 should draw a line under this matter."

Following last month's tweet, the Board of Deputies of British Jews called on Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg to withdraw the party whip from Mr Ward.

The MP subsequently said his comments were not intended to support Hamas rocket attacks, adding: "If they gave the opposite impression, I apologise."

But at the time of his tweets he, somewhat unsurprisingly, sparked outrage from members of the public and MPs.