(TNS) - Passion was plentiful in the discussion Thursday night over a proposal to make a region of Israel Boulder's ninth sister city. Council approved the sister city relationship with Ramat HaNegev, Israel, and another with Kathmandu, Nepal, unanimously on a 7-0 vote; councilwomen Lisa Morzel and Suzanne Jones were absent.More than two dozen members of the public spoke during open comment. Tara Winerproposed the area as a sister city, lauding its many similarities to Boulder, including a love of the outdoors, environmental stewardship and a thriving university and tech startup scene."We have been looking forward to an Israeli sister city for some time," she said.Winer was among the many vocal opponents of Nablus, in the Palestinian territories, being made a sister city in 2016. The public hearing for Ramat HaNegev drew similar opposition, with multiple speakers decrying the Israeli government's harsh treatment of ethnic and religious minorities. They argued that, in voting for the sister city, Boulder would be giving tacit approval to Israel's actions."This vote is taking a side," A.J. Nichols said. "Take the side of human rights."Speakers in support said the adoption of an Israeli sister city would balance out the Palestinian territory in Boulder's roster. Nora Gayer, a Jewish resident who said her grandmother survived the Holocaust, said that argument was a "false equivalence.""There's a difference between the oppressor and the oppressed, a difference between the occupier and the occupied," Gayer said. "To approve this sister city would be to make yourselves irrevocably complicit."Supporters of Ramat HaNegev focused on the need for establishing interpersonal relationships to foster understanding and combat hate."Israel, with all its challenges, is still a thriving democracy," said Rabbi Fred Greene. "There are people within Ramat HaNegev who are advocating" for minorities and protesting government action."The sister city project is about people," Jerry Pinsker said, "not politics."Council members agreed with Pinker, reminding the audience that council's only job was to judge if the sister city application was complete — not to judge the politics or culture of the country in which it lies.Boulder has eight existing sister cities, including in contentious countries such as Cuba, councilmember Sam Weaver pointed out. ""I don't agree with everything the government of Israel does. But that's not my role as a city councilman tonight."Discussion on Nepal was tame by comparison. Only one person spoke at the public hearing, and council comments were for less than five minutes, with members saying the partnership was a natural fit given Boulder's vibrant Nepalese community.Narayan Shrestha, the Nepalese owner of Old Tibet store (948 Pearl St.), proposed the relationship. Shrestha moved to Boulder in 1977 and said he has sent thousands of Coloradans to Nepal."Because we are already establishing people-to-people relationship, why not (make a more formal relationship) between Boulder and Kathmandu?"Shay Castle: 303-473-1626, email@example.com or twitter.com/shayshinecastle———©2018 the Daily Camera (Boulder, Colo.)Visit the Daily Camera (Boulder, Colo.) at www.dailycamera.comDistributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.