BRADFORD East MP David Ward has issued what the party described as a "categorical apology", after posting a tweet suggesting that he might be ready to fire rockets from Gaza into Israel.

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

The statement came after the Board of Deputies of British Jews called on Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg to withdraw the party whip from Mr Ward, whose membership was suspended for a period following previous controversial remarks about Israel and the Jews.

Following his statement, the Liberal Democrats said that Mr Ward would meet chief whip Don Foster "in due course" after which a decision would be made on whether disciplinary action should be taken.

Mr Ward was suspended by the party for several weeks last year after making controversial remarks about Israel and Jews.

Now his future is once being questioned after he used social media to give his verdict on the violence currently rocking the Middle East.

"The big question is - if I lived in Gaza would I fire a rocket? - probably yes," he posted online.

This morning, he told the Telegraph and Argus he stood by his comment and would not be withdrawing it.

He said: "What it is doing is understanding the state of mind of people who are absolutely desperate and are looking to the world to help them."

He denied the comment condoned the killing of innocent Israeli civilians.



He said: "If you lived in Gaza and you saw people being blown to pieces by one of the world's most powerful military forces and no-one was doing anything about it, save for platitudes about calling for a ceasefire, what would you do?

"Well, I don't know what I would do but I can imagine I would be in a pretty desperate state and would then do things I wouldn't normally do."

The party said it "utterly condemned" the remarks on Twitter which "are not representative of the Liberal Democrats".

"Nick Clegg has been at the forefront of calling for peace in Israel and Gaza," a spokesman said in a statement.

"The party takes this matter very seriously and will treat it as a disciplinary issue."

But Mr Ward said he had spoken to the party whip and he had not been told of any disciplinary action.

Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps called on the MP to withdraw the remark, which Labour said was a "vile" comment by a "desperate" MP.

"Appalling: No MP should Tweet what's essentially incitement to violence," Mr Shapps said.

"Mr Ward must withdraw now. Completely irresponsible."

Another Lib Dem MP, Stephen Williams, distanced himself from his party colleague's views.

"I think Israel's response is heavy handed but Hamas rocket firing is deplorable too," he told him.

"I've seen school bomb shelters in S Israel."

Mr Ward, the MP for Bradford East, had the party whip restored in September after serving a suspension over a series of clashes with the Lib Dem hierarchy over his views on Israel and its treatment of the Palestinians.

The final straw for leadership was a posting in July last year questioning the future existence of the state of Israel which the party said broke a previous agreement to use "proportionate and precise''

language when commenting on the issue.

Mr Ward condemned that ruling as ''disproportionate'' saying such views were widely shared.

A Labour spokesman said: "At a time when all sides should be working for a ceasefire and a peaceful settlement, it defies belief that a Liberal Democrat MP should tweet something so vile and irresponsible.

"Nick Clegg must act immediately to disassociate his party from this comment."