Warsi: Was she al­ready on her way out?

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS -

DAVID CAMERON has re­sisted party pres­sure to adopt a more hard­line re­sponse to Is­rael’s ac­tions in Gaza.

Back­bench ef­forts to force a change in po­si­tion were boosted when For­eign Of­fice min­is­ter Baroness Warsi quit be­cause she could no longer sup­port the govern­ment line.

In her res­ig­na­tion let­ter, she wrote: “Our ap­proach and lan­guage dur­ing the cur­rent cri­sis in Gaza is morally in­de­fen­si­ble.”

Her de­ci­sion gave rise to con­cerns that another min­is­ter may re­sign, and for­mer at­tor­ney-gen­eral Do­minic Grieve ques­tioned whether Is­rael’s ac­tions were “nec­es­sary and pro­por­tion­ate”.

A Down­ing Street spokesman said Mr Cameron re­gret­ted the res­ig­na­tion but re­it­er­ated the fact that the govern­ment had re­peat­edly called for a cease­fire, although he had re­peat­edly re­fused to con­demn Is­rael’s ac­tions in stronger terms.

Lead­ing Jewish party sup­port­ers tried to down­play the re­ac­tion, cit­ing in­ter­nal party wran­gling as a key mo­ti­va­tion for those at­tack­ing Is­rael.

One West­min­ster source said: “Warsi was a nonen­tity. Cameron kept her around for elec­toral rea­sons. She knew she would be on her way soon.

“The feel­ing is that most peo­ple will sup­port the govern­ment line. In terms of cabi­net mem­bers, things are good. A lot have just got pro­moted and won’t give that up.”

Me­dia re­ports on Wed­nes­day sug­gested Mr Cameron had been “stunned” by se­nior col­leagues’ “re­volt” on the is­sue, but Is­rael sup­port­ers in the party said the mat­ter had been “to­tally over-egged”.

“There are a hand­ful of dis­senters,” said one. “Boris John­son went a bit off the reser­va­tion but that might just be Boris be­ing Boris.”

The Lon­don Mayor, nor­mally a strong sup­porter of Is­rael, had said its mil­i­tary ac­tion was “dis­pro­por­tion­ate and tragic”.

That led the Lon­don Jewish Fo­rum to seek a meet­ing with him. Its chair­man, Adrian Cohen, said: “The last thing Lon­don needs is for the mayor to add fuel to the flames by bring­ing the Mid­dle East into Lon­don pol­i­tics.”

Stour­bridge MP Mar­got James, who pre­vi­ously joined a Con­ser­va­tive Friends of Is­rael del­e­ga­tion to the coun­try, wrote to For­eign Sec­re­tary Philip Ham­mond to ex­press dis­may at the “un­jus­ti­fi­able” scale of Pales­tinian suf­fer­ing.

Sir Ni­cholas Soames, Mid- Sus­sex MP, said Is­rael’s ac­tions “are be­yond the pale” and the govern­ment’s re­sponse was fee­ble.

MP for Totnes, Sarah Wol­las­ton tweeted on Mon­day: “On a day we pause to re­mem­ber the fallen of WW1, Is­rael re­sumes the mass slaugh­ter of in­no­cents”.

In his strong­est com­ments on the cri­sis, Mr Ham­mond ac­cepted last week­end that the pub­lic was “deeply dis­turbed” by the suf­fer­ing and that the sit­u­a­tion had be­come “in­tol­er­a­ble”.

He said he was con­cerned that an­ti­semitism would con­tinue to rise in Bri­tain.

PHOTO: GETTY IM­AGES

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