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Belfast City Council wants expulsion of Israeli ambassadors


Brian Kingston. Credit: Brian Little

Brian Kingston. Credit: Brian Little

Brian Kingston. Credit: Brian Little

A motion is to be brought before Belfast City Council that could see the local authority urge the UK and Irish Governments to immediately expel Israeli ambassadors.

It comes following 11 days of violence between Israelis and Palestinians during which at least 250 people were killed, with the majority of the deaths Palestinians in Gaza.

Hamas fired more than 4,000 rockets towards Israel, who launched hundreds of air attacks against targets in Gaza. The Hamas rockets claimed 12 lives in Israel, including two children, while the Israeli strikes killed 243 Palestinians, including 66 children.

A ceasefire was eventually brokered, with both Hamas and Israel declaring victory.

Just last week, the Dail voted to condemn Israel’s “de facto annexation” of Palestinian land — thought to be the first use of the phrase by an EU government in relation to Israel.

Members rejected, however, an amendment by People Before Profit (PBP) to expel the Israeli ambassador. Last Monday, Stormont MLAs also discussed the latest round of Israeli-Palestinian violence.

The Belfast City Council motion, to be debated on Tuesday night, has been tabled by PBP councillor Fiona Ferguson.

It states that Israel’s military operation in Gaza amounts to the “ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestinians”, and “illegal settlement expansion, represents flagrant breaches of international law”.

“That a growing list of human rights organisations have determined that Israel’s action amount to apartheid, including the latest report by Human Rights Watch,” it reads.

“That normal co-operation with the Israeli state is therefore untenable in these circumstances.

“The council recognises the rich history of solidarity and activism in this city from all communities for Palestine, including very recently when a huge demonstration called for an end to Israeli mistreatment of the Palestinians; and that such solidarity on the part of our citizens can be an important tool in dismantling support for Israel’s actions.

“The council therefore condemns the actions of the Israeli state, as listed above, and agrees to write to the Irish Government and the UK Government, urging them to expel from office Israeli ambassadors, with immediate effect.”

DUP group leader on the council, Brian Kingston, said his party welcomes the ceasefire between the two sides, but it would not be supporting the motion.

“We support all efforts to promote peaceful co-existence between Israel and Palestine. We do think this motion is just another predictable statement of position by People Before Profit, who always take a one-sided approach, and we feel that is unhelpful and unbalanced,” he told the Belfast Telegraph.

“We should be supporting efforts on the ground for that peaceful co-existence. We don’t want hostilities.”

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