by Marie Woolf | | 20 June 2003
Two MPS caused outrage yesterday by comparing the treatment of Palestinians in Gaza to the Nazi segregation of Jews in the Warsaw ghetto.
Oona King, Labour MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, and Jenny Tonge, Liberal Democrat MP for Richmond Park, who visited Gaza last week with the charity Christian Aid, said the situation was getting worse as the area in which the Palestinians live gets smaller.
Ms King, whose mother is Jewish, said: "No government should be behaving like that - least of all a Jewish government. It's the same in nature but not extent. Palestinians are not being rounded up and put in gas chambers.
"What makes it similar is what happened to the Jewish people in that time, which was the seizing of land, being forced from property, torture and bureaucracy - control used in a demeaning way over the smallest task. On top of that, building a wall around them, and that is precisely what the Israeli government is doing."
Ms Tonge said: "You are almost getting a situation like the Warsaw ghetto - people can't get in or out. They can't work, they can't sell anything. There is this gradual squeeze."
But Lord Janner, the Labour peer and Vice-President of the World Jewish Congress, said it was wrong to draw comparisons with the Nazi era. "Comparisons with the Warsaw ghetto is horrendously inappropriate and shows a sad lack of historical perspective," he said.
Yuri Dromi, of the Israel Democracy Institute, said: "Comparing someone in Gaza to the ghetto is really appalling. I think it is outrageous. The Warsaw ghetto was created to suffocate the Jews and to execute them."
The MPs' comments came as Tony Blair held talks in London with Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli finance minister, about the peace process and the state of Israel's economy.