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British Peer Resigns After Criticizing Israel

Baroness Jenny Tonge resigned from the Liberal Democrats after they demanded she apologize for her latest fusillade of anti-Israel remarks.
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 3/1/2012, 3:31 PM

Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Jenny Tonge on Thursday resigned from her position as party whip over her strident and public anti-Israel views.

“Beware Israel: Israel is not going to be there forever in its present performance. One day the United States of America will get sick of giving £70 billion [$109 billion] a year to Israel,” she said, addressing a group of students at Middlesex University in London last Thursday.

Israel receives approximately $3 billion annually in military grants from the US, most of which is earmarked for purchases from US defense contractors. Other aid to Israel is given in the form of loan guarantees. Economic grants to Israel ended in 2007.

Tonge's alleged USD 109 billion is nearly twice what the United States actually earmarked for all of its international assistance programs around the world in 2010, which was USD 58.3 billion.

Tonge criticized the relationship between the United States and the Jewish state, describing Israel as “America’s aircraft carrier in the Middle East.”

"There will come a day when the people in the United States will say “enough is enough.”

“It will not go on forever, it will not go on forever and Israel will lose its support, then they will reap what they have sown,” Tonge said.

The Liberal Democrats issued a statement saying Tonge did not speak for the party on the subject of “Israel/Palestine.”

“Her presence and comments at this event were extremely ill-advised and ill-judged,” a spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats said.

According to the Guardian, Liberal Democrat chief Nick Clegg - who serves as Britain's deputy prime minister - contacted Tonge issued an ultimatum: apologize for her remarks or leave the Liberal Democrat faction in the House of Lords.

Tonge, The Guardian reported, told the leadership in a phone call that she would stand by her remarks.

Tonge has been sacked from the Liberal Democrats for her vituperative anti-Israel rhetoric before, most notably when she said she “just might consider” becoming a suicide bomber if she were a 'Palestinian.'

In 2010, Cleg sacked her as health spokesperson for the party after she called for an inquiry into allegations Israeli troops were involved in organ-trafficking in Haiti. Clegg said her comments were "wrong, distasteful and provocative."

Commenting on her most recent statements, Clegg said: "These remarks were wrong and offensive and do not reflect the values of the Liberal Democrats."