Conservatives withdraw motion on Israel-Palestine after demonstration outside Town Hall

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Conservative councillors have backed down after calling on Rotherham Council to condemn a rise in anti-Semitic attacks in light of the Hamas-Israel war.

There were shouts from ‘shame on you’ from the public gallery at Wednesday’s (November 29) full council meeting as the Conservatives urged Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council to express support for residents who have been ‘deeply impacted’ by the conflict.

Tory leader Councillor Simon Ball also wanted the council to condemn the pulling down of the Israeli flag from the Town Hall last month and support calls for humanitarian pauses to allow in aid.

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More than 13,300 Palestinians have been killed since the war began on October 7, roughly two-thirds of them women and children, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza.

Demonstrators outside the town hallDemonstrators outside the town hall
Demonstrators outside the town hall

More than 1,200 people have been killed on the Israeli side, mostly civilians killed in the initial attack. At least 77 soldiers have been killed in Israel’s ground offensive.

But the motion was withdrawn following a pro-Palestine demonstration outside the Town Hall.

It also hoped that councillors would back a statement, saying that the council as a whole ‘is saddened and disturbed by the terrorist atrocities being committed by the terrorist group Hamas against Israel, as we have seen this has caused horrific devastation and created an escalating humanitarian crisis’.

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Councillor Ball withdrew the motion during the meeting, and told the local democracy reporting service he wanted to bring it to full council to support both Labour and the Conservative stance on the issue.

The Labour administration submitted a number of amendments to the motion, removing the resolutions and not declaring ‘support for either of its protagonists’.

Councillor Ball said: “I felt that we needed to adopt what both the Conservative Government and the Labour Party stance was, and called for supporting the local call for humanitarian pauses to allow in aid, which I would have thought the Labour Party of Rotherham would have accepted.

“This was a local motion that tried to help ‘all’ residents of Rotherham, but it seems that the Rotherham Labour party want to take a different path away from their own party and that of the UK Government and this is why this motion had to be removed from the council yesterday.”

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Demonstrators outside the town hall called the motion ‘a load of nonsense’.

Dr Sahar Alshami, a Palestinian living in Rotherham, said that the motion did not ‘acknowledge the suffering of the Palestinians, and the criminal wars being committed by the Israelis in the last seven weeks’.

“I’m really applauding Rotherham Council for what they did for the Ukrainians, and what the empathy they showed the Ukrainian community here in Rotherham,” said Dr Alshami.

“My question [to the council] is would you be able to show the same empathy to the Palestinians?

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“What we’ve been witnessing since the seventh of October is genocide to innocent civilians, and the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.

“Premature infants were left in a nursery hospital to die because the hospital was besieged by Israelis.

“This is a war on kids, civilians, it’s a war on Palestinian rights.

“I’m calling for permanent ceasefire. Stop the genocide of my people and let us live.

“You won’t have peace through war.”