Wed 30 June 2010 – Late yesterday evening, after a long debate, a motion condemning Israeli aggression and its blockade of Gaza, was carried at the full Council Meeting in Bristol.
The motion read:-
9. MOTIONS [CPR 2.1(2)(xi)] A COUNCILLOR J KIELY TO MOVE:
This Council notes the long standing links between Bristol and the people of Palestine through a range of organisations and activities over many years; therefore Council condemns the brutal attack on the ships of the Freedom Flotilla, in international waters, by the Israeli military on Monday 31 May 2010.
This was a convoy of ships delivering vital humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza . At least nine human rights activists were killed and dozens more injured. Two Bristol citizens, Sakir Yildirim and Cliff Hanley were on one of the ships carrying aid to Gaza . We welcome the statement in the Queen’s Speech that the UK Government will “continue to work for a two-state solution that sees a viable Palestinian state existing in peace and security alongside Israel,” but call on the Government to hold Israel to account for this illegal action and to ensure that future convoys from Bristol and elsewhere are able to deliver humanitarian aid without fear of an Israeli army attack.
Council expresses its support for:
* The demand of Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan for a prompt, independent and international investigation into the Israeli attack The UK Government to put Pressure on Israel to end the illegal blockade of Gaza and its military occupation of Palestinian land.
* Sanctions be imposed on Israel until it complies with international law and ceases perpetrating human rights abuses.
* An immediate suspension of the EU-Israel Association Agreement on human rights grounds. An immediate two-way arms embargo between the UK and Israel . Such an embargo would send a clear message to Israel that its actions are unacceptable.
* Council requests the Leader of Council to write to the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister in support of the above demands and further requests that the Government issues a blanket exemption to all public bodies to allow them to dis-invest in Countries that flout international law in the above manner.
Members of local organisations including Bristol-Gaza-Link, the Bristol Turkish Community vigiled outside the Council House (town hall) prior to the meeting
A submission was made by Cliff Hanley who is secretary of the Bristol Palestine Solidarity Campaign. Cliff delivered his statement with great passion. He described the horrors of the attack on the Mavi Marmara, the injustice of their imprisonment and their subsequent deportation. He called for justice for the Gaza aid and peoples personal possessions which were all commandeered by the Israelis. He went on to demand divestment of any Israeli financial interests and a boycott of Israeli goods in Bristol .
The motion was proposed by the LibDem group (the largest group on the Council) and seconded by the Labour group. The Conservatives pushed for an amendment which was lost.
Palestine campaigners are delighted at the result and described the result as “monumental”.
Ed Hill says “We”re delighted our City Council has voted through this motion. This as a major step forward for justice for the terrible attacks on the aid ships and to help the people of Palestine . Hopefully other Councils throughout the country will follow suit, and this builds pressure on the Government to halt Israel”s illegal actions.
He goes on to say “It”s easy for everyone to help the boycott campaign. Just check the label on fresh fruit, veg, and herbs in your supermarket. If the labels says Israel please don”t buy them; or even better complain to the manager. The boycott campaign succeeded against apartheid in South Africa and it will work with Israel now. It”s something everyone can easily do to help Palestine”.
Ibrahim Musaji, a social worker from Gloucester was travelling on the flotilla as a representative of Bristol Gaza Link which has been deeply involved in the campaign to lift the blockade of Gaza. He witnessed how Israeli soldiers opened fire on unarmed aid volunteers on Mavi Marmara and is still traumatised by his experienced. His money and credit cards were confiscated by Israeli authorities and later used by them to take money out of his account.
“Bristol Cement For Gaza Project” raised thousands of pounds from across the communities of Bristol for the aid flotilla destined for Gaza . During the attack the Bristol people, Cliff Hanley, a member of BGlink and Sakir Yildirim, also witnessed their friends shot down around them. Cliff Hanley received a bullet graze on his arm. All the building materials destined for Gaza were commandeered by the Israelis. Everyone was imprisoned and subsequently deported. All their luggage, cameras, mobile phones, wallets, money, personal processions, and in some cases even their passports were confiscated by the Israelis.