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Council backs Gaza motion

PUBLISHED: 15:14 12 February 2009 | UPDATED: 14:03 05 October 2010

By Gemma Collins TOWN Hall bosses showed their support for Palestinians in Gaza this week by passing a motion condemning the actions of Israel last month. The motion accuses Israel of using disproportionate and insufficiently discriminating militar

By Gemma Collins

TOWN Hall bosses showed their support for Palestinians in Gaza this week by passing a motion condemning the actions of Israel last month.

The motion accuses Israel of using "disproportionate and insufficiently discriminating military force" which has led to a rise in "anti-Israel sentiment across the world".

It calls for the government to pressure Israel to halt settlement on Palestinian land, consider sanctions against Israel if it refuses to negotiate, halt arms exports and condemn the BBC and Sky TV for refusing to air an appeal for Palestinian aid.

The motion also calls on the government to condemn Hamas rocket attacks in Israel and anti-Semitic attacks across the country.

Tensions were rising in the Town Hall as councillors debated the motion at the full council meeting on Monday night.

Respect leader Cllr Abjol Miah submitted the original proposal, calling for a boycott of Israeli goods, the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador and to hold a day of support for the Palestinians in Gaza while raising money in the borough.

But these specific demands were rejected by an amended motion, raised by leader of the council Lutfur Rahman, which received councillors' votes.

A suggestion from Tory councilor Phil Briscoe that "precious time" was being spent discussing issues the council had no control over and instead they should be "doing the jobs they are employed to do" for Tower Hamlets residents, was shouted down by the opposition.

Labour councillor Abdal Ullah responded: "It is about representing the views of the people out there. Tower Hamlets is a diverse borough.

"If you don't feel proud to represent the borough then don't stand in the next election."

But his Labour colleague Carli Harper-Penman said she was "appalled" with these arguments from her own party and the opposition and urged councillors to "step back and be a little more balanced in our discussion".

After the meeting Cllr Miah expressed his anger over the rejection of the Respect motion, accusing Labour councilors of "showing their cowardice and lack of principle" in a bid to appease Israeli-supporters within the party.

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