Worcester to become first city in Britain to be twinned… with Gaza

By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 8:01 AM on 26th February 2009

One is a picturesque cathedral city in the heart of England, famed for its china and the tangy sauce that shares its name.

The other is a grief-stricken war zone in the Middle East run by a group listed as a terrorist organisation by both the EU and the U.S.

They may not seem best suited as twins, but Worcester, birthplace of Sir Edward Elgar, could become the first British city to be twinned with Gaza City.

A motion calling for the twinning association to consider the link was passed by 29 votes to nil, with six abstentions, at a meeting of the Tory-run council.

Labour councillor Alan Amos, who first suggested the twinning, said: ‘Like many I have watched the plight of the people of Gaza, seeing them get bombed and bombed by Israelis with advanced military weapons.

‘But rather than sit there thinking, “Isn’t that terrible” I really wanted to do something about it.

‘We wanted to bring people together to show a gesture of solidarity – so Gaza could look at us and see that the whole world isn’t against them, there are people who understand their plight and think what is happening to them is unacceptable.

‘We are optimistic this will go ahead. And it is a humanitarian gesture and not a political move.’

Tory councillor David Tibbutt, who supported the move, said the link with Gaza City should be more than a gesture.

He added: ‘It is important that we concentrate on how we can really make a difference in the areas of culture, mutual learning, social activity and in some cases humanitarian aid.’

The proposal will now go to the city’s twinning association, which has already fostered links with Kleve in Germany, Le Vesinet in France and Worcester in Massachusetts.

Worcester residents have given a mixed response to the proposal.

Sandra Thompson, 62, said: ‘If there are some positive outcomes for the people of Gaza City then I am 100 per cent behind the idea. People in Worcester are lucky to live in a peaceful, conflict-free environment and it is easy to forget about those who aren’t as fortunate.’

But Nick Walton, 29, said: ‘It is a nice idea, but I’m not sure what it is going to achieve. There are lots of cities all over the world enduring similar problems and to single one out for help is not exactly an impartial approach.’

Labour councillor Jo Hodges said the move was ‘an empty gesture’ and added: ‘We have several successful twinnings where we are able to visit the twinning towns – this sort of activity is more or less impossible for Gaza.’

Alexandra Syrotiuk, visitor centre manager for Worcester Tourism, said: ‘We have children from local schools going over to our German and French towns that we are twinned with for visits. I couldn’t see that happening with Gaza.’

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