Glasgow & West Scotland

Row over Glasgow City Council's plans to fly Palestinan flag

Palestinian flag Image copyright AP
Image caption Glasgow City Council plans to fly the Palestinian flag on Friday

A row has broken out over Glasgow City Council's plans to raise the Palestinian flag over the city chambers on Friday.

Lord Provost Sadie Docherty said it would be raising the flag in solidarity with people who had been affected by the conflict in Gaza.

But the Glasgow Jewish Representative Council president said it was "angered and hurt" by the council's decision.

Paul Morron said: "Flying the flag is the worst kind of gesture politics."

He said such a move "does nothing to alleviate the suffering on either side of the conflict, nor does it bring peace closer by one single minute".

In a letter to the mayor of Bethlehem, Councillor Docherty said: "As Lord Provost of Glasgow I write in response to the statement issued by Bethlehem City Council in relation to the ongoing violence in Gaza. I offer heartfelt sympathy to the people of Gaza who are suffering during this most recent outbreak of violence.

"Glasgow is home to many friends of Palestine and this is a deeply distressing time for them. They represent a variety of ethnicities, political persuasions, faiths and none. However, they are united by a common desire to support the Palestinian people.

"In solidarity with Bethlehem and Palestine, Glasgow City Council will raise the Palestinian flag on Friday 8th August. We hope that peace can be found to ensure the human rights for the people of Palestine."

She added: "I assure you that Glasgow's twinning arrangement with Bethlehem is held in the highest esteem and we hope to use this link to continue to strengthen our cultural links and develop further opportunities for our citizens.

Arms embargo

"Glasgow values relationships where we can look forward to enriching lives, building ties based on mutual respect and a fundamental commitment to extending equality of opportunity for all citizens.

"I would like to convey my most sincere condolences to the many in your city and throughout Palestine, who have been affected by this conflict.

"Please be assured that our thoughts are with you and we are hopeful that an immediate, enduring and peaceful resolution can be found to this conflict."

Mr Morron said the council was more likely to cause division than reconciliation through such a gesture.

He said: "Glasgow has just celebrated the most wonderful and inclusive Commonwealth Games, the essence of which was bringing people together and overcoming division.

"The city council as the host of the Games should be emulating their spirit, and bringing people together, not causing offence and division within their community."

Public pressure

He said the Jewish community also deplored the Scottish government's call for an arms embargo on Israel.

"This gesture is a complete hypocrisy", he said. "The Scottish government has repeatedly acknowledged the right of Israel to self-defence, but now want to deny them the means to do so."

Fife Council has also announced plans to fly the Palestinian flag over Fife House in Glenrothes for a week "to raise awareness of and protest against the suffering and death of the people of Gaza".

Council leader David Ross said: "I hope that by flying this flag we can add strength to the public pressure for a lasting ceasefire which can help bring about peace and stability in the area.

"This action is not in support of any specific organisation, but simply in solidarity with the people of Gaza to show our concern for their suffering and to call for a lasting ceasefire."

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