A Liberal Democrat MP is facing fierce criticism over comments he made about Jews and the Holocaust.

David Ward, the 59-year-old MP for Bradford East, made his comments about Israel's treatment of Palestine after signing a book by the Holocaust Educational Trust.

Ward wrote on his website: "Having visited Auschwitz twice - once with my family and once with local schools - I am 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."

Karen Pollock, the chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, responded to Ward's comments by saying:

"I am deeply saddened that at this sombre time, when we remember those who were murdered by the Nazis, Mr Ward has deliberately abused the memory of the Holocaust, causing deep pain and offence.

"These comments are sickening and unacceptable and have no place in British politics."

A Liberal Democrat spokesman said: "This is a matter we take extremely seriously.

"The Liberal Democrats deeply regret and condemn the statement issued by David Ward and his use of language which is unacceptable."

Elected to represent Bradford East in 2010 by a majority of only 365 votes, Ward's constituency is next door to that of George Galloway of the Respect party. Galloway is well-known for his avowedly pro-Palestine stance.

Ward said: "For my entire political career I have fought prejudice. I have just returned from Bradford's Holocaust Memorial event where people across cultures and faiths joined together to say "We bear witness to the horrors of the Holocaust and will never forget its lessons."

"In the words of the Holocaust survivor, Elie Wiesel, as quoted in the booklet 'Holocaust Memorial Day - Learning Lessons from the past to create a safer, better future': "I swore never to be silent whenever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented."