Warsi resigns, slams UK's 'morally indefensible' Gaza policy
Baroness Warsi, a high-profile British Foreign Office minister, became the senior first European politican to step down over their government’s stance towards Gaza on Tuesday morning.
Warsi, who was responsible for the UK’s presence at the United Nations and the International Criminal Court, explained her decision, saying publicly that she feels she can no longer “support government policy” over Gaza.
An hour after she posted this tweet, she also published a picture of her letter of resignation.
She slammed the UK government’s policy, not only towards Gaza but also towards Middle East peace more generally, calling it “morally indefensible”.
She also warned that current policy will have a “long term detrimental impact” on Britain’s reputation.
Hinting at the possibility that further resignations could be on the way, she described “great unease across the Foreign Office” about the way decisions are made regarding UK foreign policy.
The UK government has refused to condemn Israel’s bombardment of Gaza despite the high civilian casualties it has caused.
UK Prime Minister David Cameron's strongest criticism thus far came amid international outrage at an Israeli strike on school run by UNRWA in Rafah, which was sheltering up to 3,000 displaced Gazans at the time of the attack.
The bomb, thought to have been dropped by an Israeli drone, killed 10 people and injured 50 on Sunday.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued his strongest statement yet after the attack, calling it “a moral outrage and a criminal act.”
Cameron said on Monday that the UN had been “right” to condemn the attack, but stopped short of declaring the strike a breach of international law.
Last Friday, UK Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg called on Israel to hold face-to-face talks with Hamas.
Warsi’s resignation makes her the first member of the UK’s coalition government to step down on a matter of principle since it came to power in 2010.
In an interview with the Huffington Post, she accused Britain of failing to act at as an “honest broker” in the Middle East.
She demanded an immediate embargo on sending arms to Israel.
The British government has come under fire for continuing to supply Israel with military equipment, and on Monday they announced a “review” of arms licences worth £42m.
However, in late July, a Foreign Office minister said the UK does not support “imposing a blanket arms embargo on Israel” on the basis that it has “a legitimate right to self-defence.”
Reactions to the resignation
Many have praised Baroness Warsi for her resignation, including Conservative MP Sarah Wollaston, the Liberal Democrat Jeremy Corbyn and Labour member Sadiq Khan.
Speaking to reporters after hearing the news of Warsi’s resignation, UK Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said it was an “open secret” that there is disagreement in the UK government over the bloodshed in Gaza, and that he had spoken to Baroness Warsi about the issue on a number of occasions.
“I have been more outspoken than any other senior politician in saying…that I felt the Israeli military action was…disproportionate.”