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In U.K., A Cabinet Official Quits Government Over Conflict In Gaza

Sayeeda Hussain Warsi, British Senior Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, in 2013.
T. Mughal
Sayeeda Hussain Warsi, British Senior Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, in 2013.

A senior minister in the British government's foreign office tendered her resignation on Tuesday, protesting what she said was the U.K. government's "morally indefensible" position on the conflict in Gaza.

Sayeeda Warsi, a baroness with a seat in the House of Lords who became the first Muslim member of the prime minister's cabinet, is opposed to Britain's strong support of Israel.

In her letter of resignation, she said the support "is not in Britain's national interest and will have a long term detrimental impact on our reputation internationally and domestically."

In an interview with Huffington Post UK, Warsi said the U.K. and its allies were failing to act as honest brokers to bring an end to the violence. The Huff Post reports:

"The former Conservative Party chair, who was moved to the post of Senior Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the September 2012 reshuffle and permitted to continue attending Cabinet, revealed in her interview with HuffPost UK that she had been struggling with the coalition's stance on the Israel-Palestine conflictsince November 2012. '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.'

"Now that she has quit the government, the Tory peer wants to "speak more freely" on this issue and her first demand after handing in her resignation letter is for the UK to introduce an arms embargo. '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.'"

Meanwhile, Downing Street praised Warsi for her "excellent work" and said it regretted her decision to step down.

"Our policy has always been consistently clear — the situation in Gaza is intolerable and we've urged both sides to agree to an immediate and unconditional ceasefire," a Downing Street spokesperson said in a statement.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.