Tory party chairman Grant Shapps has distanced themselves from a former cabinet colleague who drew an equivalence between the terrorists who murdered four worshippers in Israel and those campaigning for Jewish prayer rights outside the Al Aqsa mosque.

Baroness Warsi, who quit the cabinet this year over David Cameron’s approach to Israel’s operation against Hamas, took to Twitter just hours after news broke of the fatal attack on four people praying at the Har Nov Synagogue in Jerusalem this morning.

Baroness Warsi

Baroness Warsi

She wrote: “Israeli extremists storm Al Aqsa & intimidate worshippers
Palestinian extremists storm synagogue & kill 4 worshippers #Tragic #peacenotwar.”

When former JLC chief executive Jeremy Newmark expressed shock at what he described as a “warped” tweet attempting to justify terror, she asked if he was suggesting “there is NO link (nt justification) between the murders & the weeks of intimidation and attacks”.

642px-Grant_Shapps_OfficialFollowing condemnation from community leaders, Shapps said: “To be clear @sayeedawarsi speaks for herself, not the party. Our prayers are with those murdered. No Justification for terrorism.” Warsi replied that there can never be justification for killing of civilians on either side.

JLC chief executive Simon Johnson said: “It is irresponsible of her to suggest any equivalence between any actions on Temple Mount, and the entering of a place of worship to murder innocent people engaged in the act of prayer. Such comments do her discredit and we call on her to withdraw.”

Board of Deputies vice-president Alex Brummer said: “Baroness Warsi’s response to the dastardly and cowardly attack on Jews at prayer in the sanctuary of a synagogue in Jerusalem is totally unacceptable.

“As a former Cabinet and member of the House of Lords she has a responsibility to condemn the attack without any qualifications. Her failure to do so is disgraceful and can only encourage extremists in diabolical behaviour that runs totally counter to that expected of a civilised society.”

A spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in London said: “Warsi’s unfortunate remarks, equating Jews visiting a holy site with terrorists murdering praying worshippers, are morally reprehensible and shameful.”