Debate on Palestine petition turned down by Sheffield Council

A petition signed by almost 18,000 people that was due for debate by Sheffield City Council has been turned down after most of the signatures were found to be ‘invalid’.

Monday, 1st July 2019, 17:44 pm
Updated Monday, 1st July 2019, 17:52 pm
Protest to show solidarity with people of Palestine outside Sheffield Town Hall. Picture: Sam Cooper/The Star.

The petition urged the council to recognise Palestine as a state.

In a statement, campaigners from Sheffield Labour Friends of Palestine, who started the petition, said: “While largely symbolic, Sheffield’s recognition of the Palestinian right to statehood would be significant. The UK government has always taken a timid approach under United States pressure but many feel that the tide of public opinion is turning.

Julie Pearn, Chairman of Sheffield Labour Friends of Palestine, pictured with the Lord Mayor of Sheffield, councillor Tony Downing. Picture: Marie Caley

“Sheffield would be the first UK council to take this step and set a precedent, just as happened with its recognition of Somaliland as an independent state, which other councils followed.”

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Julie Pearn, chair of Sheffield Labour Friends of Palestine, said the number of signatures had risen to around 18,000, but most of these could not be counted towards a full council debate. 

She said: “A full council debate requires 5,000 signatures. By that criterion obviously the electronic petition initiated by Sheffield Labour Friends of Palestine should initiate a debate. However, Democratic Services have determined that insufficient numbers of the signatories had a Sheffield address. 

“Obviously, we are disappointed but are still confident of a careful and considered hearing. Sheffield residents will also be present to ask questions in the chamber.”

She added that the petition will still be presented to council at the meeting this Wednesday and they would protest outside the Town Hall beforehand, at 1pm.

For a petition to be debated at full council, 5,000 people who live, work or study in Sheffield must sign it.

The council said they will, however, listen to the lead petitioner and respond during the meeting and follow up with a written response as more than five local people had signed it.

Palestine and Israel have been in conflict for decades, with both laying claim to the same territory. Palestine is not recognised as a state by Israel – but, of last year, 137 United Nations members disagreed with this stance.

Jeremy Corbyn, Labour’s national leader, has pledged to recognise Palestine as a state if the party is elected into power.

The petition will be presented to the council at the meeting which will be held on Wendesday, July 3 from 2pm.