Barack Obama has been accused of failing to stop Israel “ethnically cleansing” Bedouin Arabs.

MP Bob Russell

MP Bob Russell

Sir Bob Russell (Colchester) made the claim against the US President in the Commons as he hit out at the “deafening silence” from political leaders over Israel’s proposals to resettle the Bedouin from the Negev desert.

The Israeli parliament’s actions have also been akin to apartheid South Africa over the years, the Liberal Democrat claimed.

Sir Bob said he had asked Foreign Secretary William Hague to condemn Israel for the “ethnic cleansing of the Bedouins” but said the Cabinet minister declined.

The Foreign Office has received more than 600 representations from the public concerning the Bedouins’ plight, he added.

His provocative comments came as the Lib Dems suspended the whip from MP David Ward (Bradford East), who clashed with the party’s leadership over comments questioning the continued existence of the state of Israel.

Mr Ward has had the whip withdrawn until September 13, chief whip Alistair Carmichael said.

Sir Bob, speaking during the summer adjournment debate, said today: “The Israeli parliament has voted for what only can be described as ethnically cleansing between 40,000 and 60,000 Bedouin and clearly a removal of such a large number of humanity will only be undertaken at the point of a gun.

“If ethnic cleansing was going on anywhere else in the world, the world’s leaders would be voicing outrage.

“National and international media would have television cameras there reporting this crime against humanity.

“But we have a deafening silence from political leaders in this country and the United States of America and it’s the Americans who allow this sort of thing to go on and have done since 1948.

“President Obama has failed to ensure that ethnic cleansing does not take place by the Israelis, the Israeli parliament against the Bedouin.

“But of course it’s a track record that goes back over many years – the illegal occupation of West Bank and East Jerusalem, the obvious apartheid legislation of the Israeli government, the ignoring of countless United Nations resolutions, the Geneva Convention and international law, every day occurrences for Palestinians living in the occupied territories.

“And our Government has been silent.”

Sir Bob said he wants to see peace in the Holy Land with people of all backgrounds living in harmony.

He continued: “Actions past and present of the Israeli parliament is more akin to what went on in apartheid South Africa – and the world did not like what went on in apartheid South Africa.

“But the world is silent over what is going on in Israel/Palestine. Where are the words of opposition from President Obama and the United States administration? None.

“Where are the words of opposition from the Government of the United Kingdom? There are none.

“What is the European Union doing, other than having friendly trade relations with Israel? Earlier this year we had the extraordinary situation of a European football tournament – an international European football tournament – taking place in Israel.

“The last time I looked at a map of the world Israel is not in Europe.”

Former British Army Colonel Bob Stewart condemned the action against the Bedouin.

The Tory MP for Beckenham, who earlier intervened in Sir Bob’s speech, said: “Personally, I want to place on the record that I condemn what’s happening to the Bedouin.

“I used to live there and I think it’s disgraceful there are two kinds of people – Israelis and the others in the West Bank and the law is different for each. This is appalling.”