Scottish council rejects anti-Israel motion

Liberal Democrat councillor’s boycott clause removed from motion.

June 17, 2011 06:31
3 minute read.
An Israel boycott protest in Barcelona

israel boycott 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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LONDON – A Scottish council rejected a motion this week comparing Israel to apartheid, put forward by a councillor who supports a blanket boycott of Israel, choosing instead to support efforts for peace and a two-state solution in the region.

Dundee City Council chose instead to “note with concern” the ongoing situation in the region and called for a “just and lasting” two-state solution which will “bring peace to the region,” at its council meeting on Monday after Liberal Democrat councillor Fraser Macpherson had submitted a motion condemning the Israeli government for “its continuing illegal occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank and the illegal blockade of Gaza.” Instead, the council also passed an amendment welcoming and celebrating the diversity of cultures and faiths within its boundaries; “believing that respect for human rights is fundamental to peaceful coexistence in any society,” and noted with sorrow the continuing violence in Israel and in the Palestinian territories.

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However the council did accuse Israel of a disproportionate response against aid convoys and Palestinian protesters.

“It was accepted that Israelis have the right to live in peace, but the council deeply regrets the disproportionate response of the Israeli military against aid convoys and Palestinian protesters which has led to unnecessary suffering, lasting bitterness and international condemnation,” the council said.

It commended efforts made by US President Barack Obama and others to promote a just peace in the region. The council also called on the UK Government to show leadership and called on all sides to “show restraint and to find a way of living together in peace and prosperity.”

Macpherson originally had a clause calling for a boycott in the motion but removed it after receiving legal advice. He continues to support a campaign to boycott Israeli goods in Dundee, Scotland’s third biggest city.

Writing on his blog last July, he said: “I have written today to the SNP [Scottish National Party], Labour and Conservative group leaders and to the Depute Lord Provost to request their support for a boycott. I am anxious that this matter is progressed in a spirit of cooperation between the various political groups and that we recognize the strength of feeling of the people of Dundee, as evidenced by the growing petition.”

Dundee City Council does not support a boycott of Israel in any form and has strongly distanced itself from reports that it had a boycott of Israeli books in place.

“Dundee City Council has confirmed that there has never been a ban on buying or lending books by Israeli authors in its libraries. Reports in the foreign media that Dundee had banned Israeli books from its libraries are untrue. Furthermore Dundee City Council does not boycott any goods or services from Israel,” it said in a statement originally issued last month.

This misunderstanding arose following recent publicity surrounding another Scottish Council who had implemented a ban on books published in Israel.

The ban was implemented in 2009 by West Dunbartonshire Council and relates to all books published in Israel, regardless of the author, background or political stance.

The motion was introduced by Scottish Socialist Party councillor and far-left activist Jim Bollan who has referred to Hamas as “freedom fighters.”

“Hamas was elected and are freedom fighters alongside the Palestinians fighting an illegal occupation of Palestine by Israel,” he said in an e-mail response to an anti-boycott activist last month.

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