Northern Ireland

Belfast City Council to vote on holding 'day of solidarity' with Palestinians

A man and a child at a pro-Palestinian protest in Belfast in October. Picture: Declan Roughan/Press Eye
A man and a child at a pro-Palestinian protest in Belfast in October. Picture: Declan Roughan/Press Eye A man and a child at a pro-Palestinian protest in Belfast in October. Picture: Declan Roughan/Press Eye

MEMBERS of Belfast City Council are to debate the endorsement of a day of solidarity with Palestinians.

A special full meeting of the council has been called for Wednesday, when Sinn Féin will table a motion urging Belfast to call for the withdrawal of diplomatic status from the Israeli ambassador to Ireland; to call for immediate ceasefires in Gaza and beyond; and to make a call on the UN to “dismantle Israel’s apartheid systems”.

The motion by councillor Ciaran Beattie states the council will offer “solidarity and support to the Palestinian people of Belfast".

The motion adds: “This council recognises that this international day of solidarity comes at a time when the world has watched the indiscriminate murder of thousands of civilians in the Middle East.

“We look on at the horrific onslaught in the Middle East and the daily bombardment of Gaza and the pain and suffering being inflicted on the civilian population there, and know from our own experience in Ireland, that only through ceasefires, dialogue, negotiation and peaceful political accommodation will this nightmare end."

The motion adds: “The position of the Israeli Ambassador to Ireland is now untenable. The Ambassador should no longer enjoy diplomatic status in Ireland while Israel refuses the imperative for ceasefires and as the suffering and death toll grow."

Read more: Ireland's support for Palestine: An explainer

In October, a request from DUP Alderman Dean McCullough to illuminate Belfast City Hall in blue and white colors "in solidarity with the nation state of Israel and its people” did not receive sufficient votes to be carried.

A counter-proposal by Sinn Féin's Matt Garrett, calling for a ceasefire from all parties in the current Middle East crisis, and the lighting of Belfast City Hall in white for peace - a proposal suggested by Alliance - was carried. 

At the full meeting of the council at the start of November, Sinn Féin stopped short of calling for the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador in Ireland. An amendment by Michael Collins of People Before Profit (PBP) involved the council writing to the Irish government, calling for the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador as part of “an international call for boycotting divestment in Israel".

Sinn Féin councillors abstained from a vote on that amendment, which failed after 28 votes against it from the DUP, Alliance, the UUP and the TUV, while nine votes in favor were from PBP, the SDLP and the Green Party.