David Ward has failed to remove the tweet that provoked condemnation across the political spectrum last week.
The Bradford East MP apologised amid calls for the Liberal Democrats to withdraw the whip after he took to Twitter on Tuesday night to say: “The big question is – if I lived in Gaza would I fire a rocket? – probably yes.”
But despite issuing an apology “if” he’d caused offense, the tweet remained on his account yesterday.
Asked when it would be removed, he told the Jewish News: “It seems that the offence may have been caused to some people who did not understand what I meant and in particular that I condoned the firing of rockets at innocent Israeli civilians – I have clearly stated – as I have done many times including in a Westminster debate last week – that this is most definitely not the case.”
Pressed to explain why the message remained to continue causing offense, he added: “Why does it continue to cause offence now you know what I mean?”
A Jewish Leadership Council spokesman said: “If Mr Ward’s apology was genuine, and the Party held it to be so, surely somebody could tidy up his Twitter account and delete the offending item. Otherwise, his apology will appear to be hollow.”
The Lib Dems described the original tweet as “utterly unacceptable” and the MP is expected to meet the party’s chief whip this week as part of a disciplinary process.
After initially declining to apologise, the MP later issued a statement saying: “I utterly condemn the violence on both sides in Israel and Gaza. I condemn the actions of Hamas, and my comments were not in support of firing rockets into Israel. If they gave the opposite impression, I apologise.”
He added: “While I defend the right of Israel to exist and defend itself, I will continue to speak out for the rights of the Palestinian people who are facing untold suffering. A ceasefire in this conflict is essential. If we are to end the suffering, and establish a safer society for people in Gaza, the first step must be an end to violence on both sides.”