At the December 6th Meeting of Flintshire County Council, Councillors passed the motion introduced by LibDems Group Leader, Cllr Andrew Parkhurst (Cilcain) and calling for an immediate bi-lateral ceasefire in the Israel – Gaza war to facilitate aid, help release the remaining hostages and to use diplomacy to help achieve a lasting peace. It also called upon Welsh Government to set up and fund a Homes for Palestinians scheme.
Andrew was happy to accept an amendment proposed by the Independent Group that Welsh Government should fund any additional housing costs so that local people in need of homes are not disadvantaged.
With support across the Chamber, including our Lib Dem councillors, the Independent Group and a handful of Labour councillors, the Motion passed comfortably.
You can read below the comments Andrew made when introducing the Motion as well as the wording of the Motion itself.
Cllr Parkhurst's introduction:
"Members, I am sure we have all seen on our television screens the sheer horror of the atrocities committed by Hamas - the murder of 1,200 innocent people and the totally unjustified taking of 250 hostages.
We have also witnessed the appalling effect of Israel’s subsequent military bombardment which, according to the United Nations, before the temporary truce, had killed over 11,000 civilians (the current estimate is now over 15,000), injured more than 27,000 and displaced 1.6 million persons, with thousands more still under the rubble.
Of those killed, about 41 per cent are children and 25 percent are women.
On average, one child is killed and two are injured every 10 minutes during the war, turning Gaza, according to the UN Secretary-General, into a “graveyard for children”.
Almost 200 medics, 102 UN staff and 41 journalists have also been killed, while dozens of families over multiple generations have simply been wiped out.
Half of the civilian infrastructure in Gaza has been destroyed, including more than 40,000 homes, as well as hospitals, schools, mosques, bakeries, water pipes, sewage and electricity networks, in a way that, according to the United Nations, threatens to make the continuation of Palestinian life in Gaza impossible.
So where does that leave us in Flintshire?
Well, as a local authority we have a duty to do all we can to uphold and promote good relations in our community so that all our residents can go about their lives without fear or discrimination.
We also have a responsibility as a County of Sanctuary to open our hearts and quite possibly our homes when the remaining residents of Gaza who want to leave and who have lost absolutely everything are eventually allowed to escape the nightmare.
And as representatives of our community I believe it is also incumbent upon us to show political leadership so that we are not only prepared to do our bit locally but that we also exert whatever influence we can on our governments in Westminster and Cardiff to join the international community in ensuring that there will be safe and legal routes open to Palestinian refugees as there have been for Afgan, Syrian and Ukrainian refugees.
This motion is not about taking sides. One can support Israeli civilians by condemning Hamas and at the same time support Palestinian civilians by condemning the bombing of their homes.
This motion is about standing up for and alongside those innocents who are going through unimaginable horrors and doing what we can to encourage a peaceful and just solution to the complex issues confronting Israelis and Palestinians.
I therefore commend this Motion to Council and ask members to support it."
Text of the Motion re Israel-Gaza:
Council condemns the awful terrorist attacks carried out by Hamas in Israel on 7th October.
Council is horrified by the scenes of violence in the weeks and days since, in particular the devastating humanitarian situation in Gaza where over 10,000 Palestinians have already been killed and hostages are still being held by Hamas.
Council supports Israel’s right to protect its citizens, in line with international law, which means targeting terrorists, not civilians, and ensuring that innocent Palestinians do not pay the price for Hamas’ actions.
Council expresses its concern at the UK Government’s failure to attempt to ensure that the Israeli government and its military adhere to the requirements of international law.
1. A military solution alone will not achieve peace for Israelis or Palestinians.
2. The values of equality, democracy, human rights and the international rule of law are of fundamental importance.
3. All combatants must act in accordance with the rules of war and international humanitarian law.
4. The remaining hostages held by Hamas must be released.
5. Essential supplies of water, food, medicine and electricity must be restored to Gaza, and the passage of aid into Gaza must be facilitated.
6. That it is wrong to blame Jews for the actions of the Israeli government or Palestinians for the actions of Hamas.
Council accordingly resolves to ask the UK Government to call for an immediate ceasefire in order to:
a. Facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid into Gaza
b. Provide an opportunity to realise the release of the remaining hostages
c. Allow for an intensive period of diplomacy to realise a political solution, aimed at achieving a lasting peace.
Council notes with deep concern the severe reverberations of this crisis in the UK, with Jewish, Muslim and Palestinian communities all fearing and grieving, and condemns the rise in antisemitism and Islamophobia since 7 October.
Council calls upon the residents of Flintshire, community leaders and public figures to act responsibly and work to bring communities together at this sensitive time.
Council calls upon Welsh Government to set up a Homes for Palestinians scheme in anticipation of and to facilitate the temporary housing of refugees from the conflict.