» Friday, March 4, 2005

Ken Livingstone

Asked if Downing Street agreed with Ken Livingstone that Arial Sharon was a war criminal, and that Israel was engaging in ethnic cleansing, the PMOS that Mr. Livingstone was speaking for himself and was not a member of the Government. The PMOS referred journalists to what the Prime Minister had said in recent weeks about recognising the courageous efforts of Arial Sharon in terms of moving the process forward. This he was doing by moving forward and carrying through amidst stiff opposition, at least within his own party, the disengagement plan. Of course, as in Northern Ireland, people had views about the past, but the important things was what people were doing in the present to try and move things forward.

Put to the PMOS that the Israeli Embassy was "furious" with Ken Livingstone, and was there any message that Downing Street had to send to the Embassy, the PMOS said both the Israeli Embassy and Government knew full well the view of the Prime Minister, not least because he had expressed that view side by side with Mr Sharon at a press conference in December.

Put to him that Ken Livingstone had argued that the Israeli Government was exaggerating the return of anti Semitism in Europe, and said that "Jewish groups and individuals in Europe did not suffer the worst of racist resurgents in Europe, it was obviously Muslims" and did the Government have a view on those words, the PMOS said he did not want to get into a dialogue with Mr Livingstone. The PMOS pointed out what the Prime Minister had said in his comments at the Holocaust Memorial, which was that persecution of any kind, and racism of any kind should not be tolerated. Therefore to get into talking about degrees of racism was not where the Prime Minister was coming from. Racism of any kind should not be tolerated.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Search for related news

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