Bedford Borough Council has been asked to send a message of support to a West Bank village and to call for an immediate ceasefire for Gaza.
Mr Rob Wall told last night’s Full Council Meeting (29 November) that the “council’s first recognized friendship link is with Al-Walaja in the West Bank”.
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“The people there are suffering particular difficulties at this time. Would the council please send a message of support to the village? ” he asked.
Bedford mayor, Tom Wootton (Conservative) replied: “We have all been shocked and saddened by the events that have unfolded and which have led to the loss of so many innocent lives. Our prayers are with all the families and people affected by this conflict.
“Now more than ever during this troubling time, it is important that we remain tolerant to one another as I hope all Bedford residents will be. We, of course, hope and pray for a speedy resolution to this conflict.”
Mr Wall said: “Today is International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people.
“In Gaza, people whose life’s work is dealing with disasters around the world, [such as] UN agencies, Oxfam, etc., are unanimous in saying that an immediate ceasefire is required.
“Even states which have steadfastly supported Israel are now agreeing that a settlement is needed where both sides can live in security.
“There will be problems because the land intended for a future Palestinian state is now dotted all over with illegal Israeli settlements, and plans for these continue to be announced.
“The world has ignored these problems for decades, but now there is a window of opportunity to get serious talks started,
“But the first stage should be a ceasefire in all of Israel and Palestine, including the West Bank. Would the council please debate a proposal for an immediate ceasefire in all of Israel and Palestine?”
The mayor replied: “What the council debates isn’t up to the mayor, it’s up to councillors to bring forward motions and petitions. Looking around the room there are 40-odd councillors here, any one of them can bring forward motions and petitions.”
Mr Wall said: “I would hope at the next meeting that would be possible.”
The call for a ceasefire comes after other political leaders in Bedford Borough supported a ceasefire in Gaza. This includes Cllr Mohammed Mahboob Din who resigned from the Labour Party over his leader’s comments on the conflict.
Rally in Bedford
This weekend, a Bedford Rally for Gaza will be held in Church Square in Bedford town centre.
The event has been organized by a local group of people from community organisations in Bedford including Islam Bedford, Bedford friends of Al Walaja and Stand Up To Racism Bedford.
Spokesperson, Rosie Newbigging said, “The purpose of the rally is to keep the pressure on for a full and immediate ceasefire in Gaza and to campaign for a free Palestine. Our first rally in Bedford was attended by around 500 people”.
The rally will take place on Saturday 2 December, beginning at 2pm. The group is planning further events including a march in Bedford on 16th December.
by John Guinn
Local Democracy Reporter
additional reporting by
Paul Hutchinson for the Bedford Independent