LONDON: British politician of Pakistani origin Sayeeda Warsi on Tuesday resigned from her ministry in protest against government policy on ongoing Gaza crisis, Express News reported.
Warsi announced this decision in a tweet:
More than 1,800 Palestinians have lost their lives in the latest deadly conflict between Israel and Hamas.
First Muslim woman to sit in the Cabinet, Warsi was a minister at the Foreign Office and minister for faith and communities.
Warsi, daughter of Pakistani immigrants, was made a member of the House of Lords in 2007.
She was appointed to Cameron’s Cabinet when his coalition government took power in 2010 and while she initially had a high media profile, her star had dimmed in recent years.
She was shuffled out of the full Cabinet, the powerful inner circle of government ministers, in 2012.
Cameron’s coalition government has drawn criticism, including from the opposition Labour party, for not taking a tougher line against Israel over operations in Gaza.
He said on Monday that the UN was “right” to condemn the shelling of a UN school in Gaza which killed 10 people on Sunday but declined to say whether he thought it breached international law.
‘Arms export to Israel must stop’
In her resignation letter, Warsi had written that the “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, in an exclusive interview with the Huffington Post, said “It appalls me that the British government continues to allow the sale of weapons to a country, Israel, that has killed almost 2,000 people, including hundreds of kids, in the past four weeks alone. The arms exports to Israel must stop.”
The former foreign minister further said that she wants to “speak more freely” in regard to demanding the UK government to introduce an arms embargo.
She said, “It appalls me that the British government continues to allow the sale of weapons to a country, Israel, that has killed almost 2,000 people, including hundreds of kids, in the past four weeks alone. The arms exports to Israel must stop.”
Warsi, despite resigning based on Britain’s stance on Israel, made it clear that she was not in support of Hamas either, saying “Hamas is a terrorist organisation, and there can never be any excuse for it to fire rockets targeting civilians in Israel. It too must be held accountable for the misery it inflicts upon both the Israelis and the Palestinians.”
A Downing Street spokesperson, in response to Warsi’s resignation said, “The prime minister regrets that Baroness Warsi has decided to stand down and is grateful for the excellent work that she has done, both as a minister and in opposition,” as reported by The Guardian.
Cameron ‘sorry’ over Warsi’s resignation
British Prime Minister David Cameron in a letter to Warsi said he was “sorry to receive” her resignation and thanked her for her services, continued support over seven years of her service.
“I realise that this must not have been an easy decision for you to make and very much regret that we were not able to speak about your decision beforehand.”
Cameron added that he understands Warsi’s strength of feeling on the current crisis in the Middle East – “the situation in Gaza is intolerable.”
“Our policy has always been consistently clear: We support a negotiated two state situation as the only way to resolve this conflict once and for all and to allow Israelis and Palestinians to live safely in peace.”
Further, he lauded her efforts in building relationships with the countries and leaderships of Central Asia, particularly her role in supporting democracy and womens’ rights in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Cameron also reminded her that the United Kingdom has repeatedly called for an unconditional and immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza. ”
“Of course, we believe that Israel has the right to defend itself. But we have consistently made clear our grave concerns about the heavy toll of civillian casualties and have called on Israel to exercise restraint, and to find ways to bring this fighting to an end.”