(JTA) — Police in Britain are looking into complaints against a lawmaker who called for his constituency to be “declared an Israel-free zone.”
George Galloway of the far-left Respect Party made the call during a speech over the weekend in Leeds, prompting an investigation by West Yorkshire Police.
“We don’t even want any Israeli tourists to come to Bradford even if any of them had thought of doing so,” Galloway said. “We reject this illegal, barbarous, savage state that calls itself Israel — and you have to do the same.”
Galloway also said that Israeli goods, services and academics were likewise unwelcome. “We have declared Bradford an Israel-free zone,” he added.
A spokesperson for West Yorkshire Police told the BBC police has received two complaints againt Galloway in connection to his speech in Leeds.
Discrimination on the basis of nationality or race is illegal in Britain, as is inciting to hatred.
Galloway has said Israel should be abolished and replaced with a bi-national state. He called Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas an “American stooge.”
Asked about Galloway’s statement, David Ward of the left-wing Liberal Democrats party said “Israel-free zone was a nice sound bite,” but any boycott had to be nationwide.
Last year, Ward was suspended from his party for three months for writing that he was “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.”
Ward is now facing new disciplinary scrutiny for writing last month on Twitter: “The big question is – if I lived in #Gaza would I fire a rocket? – probably yes.”
On Thursday, Nick Clegg, a British deputy prime minister and the leader of Ward’s party, said the government would announce a suspension of Britain’s arms export licenses to Israel if it resumes its attacks in Gaza.