David Ward MP has a majority of just 365

Outrage: Lib Dem MP won’t apologise after ‘sickening’ Holocaust comments

Outrage: Lib Dem MP won’t apologise after ‘sickening’ Holocaust comments

Liberal Democrat MP David Ward is refusing to apologise after he used Holocaust Memorial Day to attack Israel's treatment of Palestinians.

The Bradford East MP had taken down a controversial article from his website after threats from the party's head office and accusations of anti-Semitism.

But Friday finished with Ward re-posting the article, insisting he has "fought prejudice" for his entire career and rejecting criticisms from outside and within his own party.

"It is true I have used the day to make a point. And that is a legitimate argument that I should or should not have done that," he told politics.co.uk.

"What I keep saying to people is which particular day of the year would the state of Israel prefer that I criticise them? The fact is there is no satisfactory day on which the state of Israel will accept any criticism of the treatment of the Palestinian."

A meeting with Lib Dem whips is reportedly set for Monday. Ward said he had spoken to the Lib Dem chief whip, Alistair Carmichael, on Thursday evening. "He's certainly never backwards in coming forwards," Ward, who was elected in 2010 with a majority of just 365, added.

He had triggered outrage by lamenting the short period of time between the events of the Holocaust and the current situation in the Middle East.

He stated: "Having visited Auschwitz twice – once with my family and once with local schools – I am saddened that the Jews, who suffered unbelievable levels of persecution during the Holocaust, could within a few years of liberation from the death camps be inflicting atrocities on Palestinians in the new State of Israel and continue to do so on a daily basis in the West Bank and Gaza."

His view was instantly condemned by the Jewish community, which said Ward's comments were "sickening and unacceptable and have no place in British politics".

Karen Pollock, chief executive of the Holocaust Education Trust, said: "I am deeply saddened that at this sombre time, when we remember those who were murdered by the Nazis, Mr Ward has deliberately abused the memory of the Holocaust causing deep pain and offence."

"This is a matter we take extremely seriously," a Lib Dem spokesperson said.

"The Liberal Democrats deeply regret and condemn the statement issued by David Ward and his use of language which is unacceptable."

Conservative backbencher Robert Halfon accused Ward of "the tragic trivialisation of real evil" and pointed out Israel had faced attacks from over 7,000 missiles from Hamas after its unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

Former Tory MP Louise Mensch tweeted: "My Jewish husband is worth a thousand of you, @DavidWardMP."

Ward suggested he was the victim of a planned response from defenders of Israel.

"I think we know this is not a knee-jerk reaction," he said.

"It is the deliberate and systematic well-coordinated response to criticisms of the state of Israel. It's well orchestrated, it's planned in advance, it will happen every time someone makes a critical comment of the treatment of the Palestinians."