UK Minister Resigns Over Government's 'Morally Indefensible' Gaza Policy
'With deep regret I have this morning written to the Prime Minister and tendered my resignation. I can no longer support government policy on Gaza.'
Sayeeda Warsi, senior minister in Britain's Foreign Office, resigned her post Tuesday because she can "no longer support" her government's "morally indefensible" policies towards Gaza.
Warsi announced her decision in a Twitter message that has been re-tweeted 26,000 times in the past eight hours.
With deep regret I have this morning written to the Prime Minister & tendered my resignation. I can no longer support Govt policy on #Gaza— Sayeeda Warsi (@SayeedaWarsi) August 5, 2014
Warsi sits in the House of Lords—Britain's unelected upper house of parliament. She became the first Muslim to serve in Britain's Cabinet in 2010 and in 2012 became senior minister of state for Britain's foreign office and minister for faith and communities.
In her resignation letter to Prime Minister David Cameron, which she shared on her Twitter page, Warsi wrote, "My view has been that our policy in relation to the Middle East Peace Process generally but more recently our approach and language during the current crisis in Gaza is morally indefensible, is not in Britain's national interest and will have a long term detrimental impact on our reputation internationally and domestically."
Warsi charged that her government's current role is inconsistent with "our values" and the "rule of law" and will damage the UK's reputation internationally. She wrote that she ultimately made the decision to step down because, "I must be able to live with myself for the decisions I took or the decisions I supported. By staying in Government at this time I do not feel I can be sure of that."
Warsi is the first British member of parliament to resign in principle over foreign policy since 2003, according to The Telegraph's Tim Stanley.
Cameron has faced fierce criticism for his refusal to strongly condemn or act to halt Israel's military assault on Gaza, which has killed over 1,800 Palestinians, 80 percent of whom are civilians according to UN estimates. On Monday Cameron refused to say whether he agreed with a statement by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon that Israel's Sunday attack on a UN school in Rafah sheltering 3,000 Palestinians was a "a moral outrage and a criminal act."
Responding to Warsi's resignation letter, Cameron defended his policy towards Gaza, stating, "We believe that Israel has the right to defend itself. But we have consistently made clear our grave concerns about the heavy toll of civilian casualties and have called on Israel to exercise restraint, and to find ways to bring this fighting to an end."
In an interview with the Huffington Post following her resignation, Warsi said her concerns about her government's policies towards Palestine date back years. "Our position not to recognize Palestinian statehood at the UN in November 2012 placed us on the wrong side of history and is something I deeply regret not speaking out against at the time," she said.