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Gaza ceasefire motion sparks heated debate at Bradford council

Caption, The meeting saw the city council launch a number of verbal attacks on each other

  • Author, Chris Young
  • Role, Local Democracy Reporting Service

A motion calling for a ceasefire in Gaza turned into a heated debate with councilors in Bradford throwing insults.

Councilors heckled each other during Tuesday’s meeting, with one member saying he was “appalled by the behavior that was displayed”.

Moved by council leader Susan Hinchcliffe, the motion called on Bradford Council to “condemn the indiscriminate attacks on Gaza by the Israeli military” and also called for the release of all hostages.

The ensuing debate soon turned fiery with a clash between Labor and independent councillors.

“Political scoring”

The motion, which was voted through by the Labour-led administration, is the third to be made regarding the conflict.

It is also the first since May’s local elections when a number of Labor candidates lost their seats to independents who had made the Gaza issue a key part of their campaign.

Before being voted in as prime minister, Sir Keir Starmer had previously called for Israel to follow international law in the conflict, but stopped short of calling for a ceasefire.

Conservative councilor Mike Pollard said it was “depressing” to see the debate become an “eruption of strife between the Labor group and the independents, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

“Chacking and Screaming”

He said the motion was “another repetition of a pointless motion” and questioned what impact the debate in the Bradford Council chamber would have on Middle East affairs.

He added: “We have the message loud and clear, as will the newly elected government, I’m sure.

“If a version of this motion comes back to the council in the next six months, the Conservative group is set to distance itself from that part of any future agenda, not only by abstaining from the vote but also by leaving the chamber for the duration the debate.”

At the end of the hour-long debate, Councilor Matt Edwards, leader of the Bradford Greens, said: “As a Bradford councilor I am appalled by the behavior that was shown tonight.

“This is supposed to be a debate about peace in the Middle East, but tonight we have heard more about the ballot boxes than the suffering in Palestine.

“It’s political scoring when people suffer and die.”

He said councilors of all political stripes and from across Bradford had spoken out against the atrocities in Gaza.

He added: “The hacking, shouting and fighting we have seen today does nothing for the Palestinian people.”

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