Layton accepts Davies' apology for Israel remarks
CTV.ca News Staff
Published Tuesday, June 15, 2010 6:39PM EDT
NDP Leader Jack Layton says he will not force out his embattled deputy Libby Davies over comments she made on video that seem to question Israel's right to exist.
Layton told CTV News Channel's Power Play he is satisfied with Davies' "sincere, forthcoming and direct" apology for her controversial remarks at a pro-Palestinian protest earlier this month, and will not reprimand her further.
"I called for a sincere and direct apology … As far as I'm concerned, that's the appropriate course of action," he said, adding he knew some would disagree with his decision.
Asked if he would be as lenient with a member of a rival party in the same situation, Layton replied: "You have to look at every individual circumstance and every individual case."
The NDP leader had already publicly distanced himself from Davies' comments, calling them a "serious mistake" that contradicts the New Democrats' vision for a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine.
But Layton's statement didn't appease a growing number of politicians and interest groups calling for Davies' resignation over the remarks.
Speaking in the House of Commons on Tuesday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper compared Davies to Helen Thomas, the veteran White House reporter forced to resign last week after she was videotaped saying Jews should "get the hell out" of Palestine.
The Liberals have also condemned the Vancouver East MP for her blunder. Liberal Foreign Affairs Critic Bob Rae said in a statement Davies should step down as deputy leader and apologize to Canadians.
In the video, Davies answers several questions about the Israel-Palestine conflict, including one asking her to clarify when the Israeli "occupation" began.
"(The occupation started in) '48. It's the longest occupation in the world," she replies in the video.
The MP also indicates she approves of boycotts and sanctions against the Jewish nation.
She later apologized in a letter to the Ottawa Citizen, also posted on her website, www.libbydavies.ca. The letter calls her comments regarding the Israeli occupation of Palestine "a serious and completely inadvertent error" and affirms her support for the NDP's two-state solution.
"I reject the allegation that I hate Israel, and I reject the assertion that I said that Israel is illegitimate or an abomination. Neither are true."
Meanwhile, Layton said the party is ready to move on from the blunder and "carry on with the work that has to be done."
"What we do need to do in this country is start to figure out how Canada can play a role in identifying solutions in a very difficult environment that is the Middle East today," he said. "We've got people who are suffering a great deal and let's start to tackle that."