Thanet councillors agree motion calling for humanitarian ceasefire in Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Gaza Strip Photo hosny salah

A motion calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict was passed at Thanet council last week – but only amid lengthy debate over amendments, disruption from the public gallery which, the chairman commented, had resulted in police being called and criticism of the ‘grammar’ used by a councillor who had already shared with the chamber that they were dyslexic.

Thanet Green Party, through Cllr Becky Wing, had brought forward a motion calling for the ceasefire, opening of humanitarian corridors into Gaza for aid and other vital medical resources. the immediate release of all hostages and all Palestinians held in arbitrary military detention, an arms embargo and for Israel to resume negotiations with the Palestinians to seek a peaceful solution to the conflict currently raging in the Middle East.

Amendments

A Labour amendment brought changes to the wording including humanitarian ceasefire, ‘to call for’ the opening of corridors and hostage releases and to call for a two state solution.

A Conservative amendment, which was not agreed for debate, requested the inclusion of Israel’s right to defend itself, condemning the use of civilian areas by Hamas, a new Palestinian government with Hamas removed from control of Gaza, bilateral cease fire and Israel and Palestine to resume negotiations.

‘Outside council remit’

During the discussion some councillors, including Cllr Barry Manners and Cllr John Davis (Con) and Cllr Kristian Bright (Labour), raised questions such as why Thanet councillors were debating an international conflict when their remit is local issues and why the focus on one conflict when there were many other atrocities being carried out in other countries, including West Africa and fighting in Ukraine. Cllr K Bright also said there was a need for accuracy in any motion that was to be debated in the council chamber.

Clearing of public gallery

People were removed from the public gallery after an outburst while Cllr Reece Pugh was speaking.

He said the motion had been brought because “people pushed or intimidated you into it” and then referenced the protestors who had been outside the council building “flying Palestinian but not Israeli flags.”

He added: “Israel has a right to defend itself” adding that it was disgusting for a party to align itself with a group “chanting from the river to the sea.”

He then listed Hamas atrocities, one of which provoked anger from the public gallery as the claim has since been shown as uncorroborated.

Council chairman Cllr John Edwards issued a warning to people in the public gallery but eventually the meeting was temporarily adjourned and he said police had been called.

‘Stop the killing’

During the meeting Cllr Rob Yates read out a statement from a resident who was in Israel when a Hamas attack was launched in October and also spoke of people starving in Gaza and the collapse of the health system.

Cllr Emma Dawson said: “I see this as a call by humanity for humanity.”

Visibly distressed by the comments about her writing of the motion, Cllr Wing then summed up to say that apart from tussles over the ‘minute details’ it was evident “we all want to stop the killing.”

Despite the disturbances and some fractious disagreements, there was majority consensus – with some abstentions- for a vote to call for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in the motion containing Labour amendments even though it was acknowledged, as Cllr Everitt said, that: “No-one in Westminster, never mind the Middle East, is waiting to hear the view of Thanet District Council.”

However, Cllr Everitt added: “We should recognise that as little as we can do as a small district council in south-east Kent, we can take the time to recognise the immense suffering that is happening far away.”

Ceasefire call

Following the meeting Thanet Green Group leader Cllr Mike Garner said: “We’re pleased and proud to have brought the motion to council at Thursday’s meeting calling on the Leader to write to the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition to call for an immediate ceasefire in Israel / Gaza.

“It’s clear that if we hadn’t done this, councillors from across the chamber who wanted to hold this debate would have been denied the opportunity. We weren’t particularly surprised that the Labour group proposed an amendment in step with their national party’s line on the issue, some of which we disagreed with.

“Sadly this meant watering down our original motion – but the important thing is that the council voted to make the ceasefire call.

“We were however disappointed with the comments and attitudes of some councillors, who seemed keener on passing judgement on the way the motion had been written rather than debating its substance.

“I was also disappointed with the comments from some which seemed to suggest that we had been “intimidated by the mob” into bringing the motion. Nothing could be further from the truth. We brought the motion to council because members from across our community, many of whom have been directly impacted by the conflict, wanted us to – and because we’re Green Party Councillors, and the Green Party nationally has consistently called for a ceasefire since the start of the conflict.

“Having said all that, we were pleased that others who wanted to speak on the substance were able to, and would like to say a big thank you to everyone from across the chamber who supported our amended motion. I’d also like to thank Cllr Helen Whitehead for deferring, again, the debate on her ‘motion regarding the abuse of councillors and officers’, which we look forward to contributing to at the next meeting.”

Council leader Cllr Everitt added: ““We were pleased that Green councillors voted for the Labour amendment. The motion addressed a major international issue which understandably provokes very strong feelings among some Thanet residents and councillors.

“The debate reflected that, although I fully understand why many people will feel the council should focus exclusively on matters it can affect.”

Watch the meeting here

From Wikipedia – an outline of the latest conflict escalation

An armed conflict between Israel and Hamas-led Palestinian militant groups has been taking place chiefly in and around the Gaza Strip since 7 October 2023.

On that day, Palestinian militant groups launched a surprise attack on southern Israel from the Gaza Strip, initiating the most significant military escalation in the region since the Yom Kippur War 50 years earlier.

After clearing Hamas militants from its territory, the Israeli military embarked on an extensive aerial bombardment of the Gaza Strip followed by a large-scale ground invasion beginning on 27 October. Clashes have also occurred in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and with Hezbollah along the Israel–Lebanon border. The hostilities constitute the fifth war of the Gaza–Israel conflict since 2008, part of the broader Israeli–Palestinian conflict.

70 Comments

  1. How utterly irrelevant to the roles to which they were elected. Virtue signalling at its most vilely hypocritical. Was such a motion proposed regarding the Rohingya or Sudan?
    Small blinkered minds always get lost down blind alleys.

    In next week’s news, the Knesset votes to censure T D.C. for closing the Theatre Royal!🙄

    • Agree 100%. Virtue signalling at its very worst. Thanet has got its own problems that need addressing and it’s disgusting that these councillors are wasting their time on world affairs that are completely irrelevant to our local issues that they were voted in for. I also dont recall our local councillors condemning the mass murder carried out by Hamas that started this whole war.

      This motion is a waste of time, money and resources. The residents of Thanet deserve more from their elected representatives.

    • It is right and proper that Thanet Council condemns the atrocities being committed by Israel in Gaza and the West Bank on behalf of the citizens of Thanet to call for a cease fire! There are 2 MP’s for Thanet and its their job to represent us and hold the government to account. I have a letter from Craig Mackinlay who says Israel has a right to defend itself, and I challenged him by saying does that include the killing of thousands of Palestinian babies, children, women, the elderly, disabled and other innocent people who do not and and cannot support Hamas? Our MP’s must hold the government to account to stop supplying weapons to Israel, which are being used to kill innocent people! Israel does not produce its own tanks, artillery, and jet fighters that are being used to reduce Gaza to rubble, no they are sold to them by the USA, and Britain and probably others!

      TDC must be congratulated in publicising the war crimes that are being committed using weapons supplied by Britain, so people lobby Craig Mackinlay, and Roger Gale, to stop Britain selling arms to Israel that are used to kill babies, children, women, and other defenceless people!

  2. That makes a world of difference, the middle east problem is solved, thanet council agree on a cease fire. That’s heart warming for the people in Gaza. Tell you what now you can get on with the Ukraine, Russian issue then if you find the time, how about looking at Thanets problems.

    • They cannot even collect local’s recycling & rubbish bins correctly, yet are trying to broker world peace!

    • There he goes again, Peter Checksfield AKA Ms Pink, trying to trivialise the murder of thousands of Palestinian babies, children, women, the elderly, and disabled in Gaza! The difference between Ukraine, and Gaza is that Israel is deliberately attacking Palestinian civilians, and destroying their homes. The Russians may kill innocent Ukrainian civilians, but that is not their main target! People, I survived the 2nd world war and my mum and I became refugees, do not let this happen again! Action Aid is a British charity active in Gaza looking after women and girls, and can be contacted by phone to make a donation on 01460 238000. Also,Medical Aid for Palestinians on 020 7226 4114.

  3. Israel didn’t start this,and its not the first time this has happened, so l say Israel needs to finish this once and for all,

    • Well they did if we go back to 1948, it happened 50 years back with the Yom Kippur attack & finish what exactly? We have seen various Palestinian groups-PLO, Fatah, Hamas etc-the names change, but the issue remains.

      Until Israel stops their apartheid state occupation & there is a two state solution it will never end-no matter how many innocent people BN slaughters.

    • So its OK to kill thousands of babies, children, women, and other innocent and defenceless people then is it,using weapons made in Britain?

  4. What a bunch of clowns! With all the problems Thanet has, our elected councillors decided to debate something they will have absolutely no impact on regardless. Laughing stock is understatement. Idiots and true c9lours shown.

  5. Well, I am sure a man who doesn’t listen to any world leader, NATO, Amnesty International, The International Court Of Justice etc will take notice of what Thanet Council say.

  6. Being clear, the Green Party motion called on TDC to write to UK Gov’t on a ceasefire.
    Also, the police were not called to clear the publuc gallery. When I arrived, before the meeting two officers were in reception, where they remained throughout.

    Some members in the gallery left after being ordered out by the Chair. But they only stated speaking out after Cllr Pugh verbally attacked them and lied about the situation in Gaza.
    As for Cllr’s waisting time by being nasty about the grammer of the motion this was pitifull. It prevented some people having time to speak and it was also hateful of them to mock Cllr Wings known disability. The Chair or their Group leader should have intervened.
    Appalling behaviour.

    • Pirate Jenny – Why waste valuable debating time on a subject they can have no influence on. Meanwhile, Thanet goes down the pan. Pathetic from our local politicians and who ever put this motion forward. Please get a grip of what matters to local people!

  7. A Women’s Institute in a village near Sittingbourne once passed a motion demanding the abolition of nuclear weapons. Their demand went unheard in high places. As will this sad little episode, although it doubtless made the contributors feel better.

  8. Three points:
    1.Gaza is a tragedy and according to polling data, the British public while shocked an sympathetic with what happened during the raid by Hama’s, are beginning to think that it is time to call a halt unfortunately there is so much hate on both sides that many more innocent people will be killed on both sides.TDC cannot alter this and political grandstanding on all sides definitely won’t help.By all means call for a deal and constructive talks, but move next business to things that matter to Thanet.
    2.Wikipedia is a source of information,but it is not unimpeachable because it can be edited by malevolent outside actors.I would use various sources such as the BBC, ITV, The Times, Reuters or other organisations that fact check.Sources within the internet and GB news etc a4 merely distributers of hearsay and conspiracy theories.
    3.I was there when the Yom Kippur broke out,and it has parallels with last October because the IDF under estimated their enemy as they did here.

  9. I’m not quite sure how TDC’s voting on the matter will make any difference at all.
    But I do hope that the killing will stop.

  10. Virtue signalling twaddle, they may all have ambitions for national office, but until they’ve climbed the slippery pole of politics, there are plenty of issues locally ( which they were elected to deal with) that need attention.

  11. It is legitimate for democratically elected bodies to have a view about matters not directly in its remit but obviously it should not detract from the main role of the organisation. The idiot Councillor Pugh once again displays his total ignorance. The phrase “from the Jordan to the sea” is actually in the constitution of the Likud Party of Benjamin Netanyahu- the real war criminal. It is not defending yourself by killing over ten thousand children and these killers should be bought to book. Israel is an apartheid state based on religious sectarianism. Such set up must be ended and equality ensured for all its people. Thanet’s small gesture is still worth making .

    • But there’s a big difference between direct remit and matters totally outside any possibly imagined sphere of influence our councillors have. ( though their own delusions may believe otherwise).
      The conflict ultimately is a religous matter and as such nothing anyone says outside of either parties religion is pretty much going to be ignored unless it happens to be convenient.
      It’d be much easier to just them knock seven bells out of each other until one or the other triumphs, then sit back and wait for it eventually all start again.
      As for threats and intimidation interfering in how our country functions, anyone doing so needs locking up or given the opportunity to live elswhere if they prefer.

  12. thank you to the Isle of Thanet News for clear, objective reporting on what was a highly charged evening. Local pressure across the UK and America is making a difference. Biden is now calling for a ceasefire, no coincidence that he has a primary in Michigan, a state that has been very vocal about his inaction. Back in Margate it was very disapointing to see some Cllrs mocking people who have protected characteristics

  13. TDC business should be limited to Thanet business alone or something which may effect Thanet directly, nit national or world issues. TDC cannot even grasp the concept of running Thanet and dealing with it’s issues let alone a subject they nearly understand.

  14. I remember some years back TDC voting on “Equal marriage”, as they called it. Perhaps they can combine the two, calling on equal marriage in Palestine?

  15. I’m going to turn comments off for now as you all seem to be ending up in spam, I’ll reopen it tomorrow

  16. Lots of people on here saying waste of councillor time, calling them numpties and all that. Lots of people in the public gallery at the meeting and on demonstrations (up and down the country) demanding councillors pass this motion (up and down the country) because they want their views represented by their local councillors. Councillors pass the motion and some people feel better and some people feel worse. Councillors don’t debate or pass the motion and some people feel worse and some feel better. Seems like councillors can’t do right for doing wrong.

  17. Criticising the grammar or writing standards of a dyslexic person is contrary to the Equality Act. It is also rude and undignified and all those who did so should be held to account at the Standards Committee in my view.

    It is unacceptable that those who declare a disability should experience this level of snobbish and controlling feedback and unfortunately, it is still rife inside the public sector, despite decades of investment in equalities education. These things actually do matter. Unlike spell checking in public, in a meeting where the paper will have already gone through an appropriate governance process.

    Whilst standards of documentation, grammar, spelling are important, it is also important (and the law) to make reasonable allowances for those who are unable to do so, particularly when they have declared so in public, in itself something difficult to do and that sadly, shouldn’t be necessary.

    Irrespective of whether folks think the motion was a waste of time, this kind of behaviour is unacceptable and I’m disappointed the Chair did not intervene or make such comment at the time. How will we ever get representation from ALL in society when the barriers to doing so remain as tediously old school as some demonstrated in this meeting?

    And to accuse people of being intimidated into bringing the motion forwards is also an allegation worth challenging.

    • I’msurprised and disgusted to read that people criticized somebody’s writing, knowing that this person was dyslexic.

      I have had, and still have, several dyslexic friends and acquaintances,who were all open about their dyslexia. One was a well-known journalist and novelist. The others also worked – some of them were teachers. The thoughtless and insensitive people who commented adversely should find out more about dyslexia.

    • Watch the recording because you will see that the chair didn’t intervene because the councillors dyslexia wasn’t a huge thing until afterwards.
      They were all arguing about what tge motion said and what it was trying to achieve.

      • The motion was introduced by Cllr Wing and the recording shows that she did say she was dyslexic.
        That aside the motion was submitted to TDC mid-January, it was rejected and re-submitted a few times so any grammatical errors are really down to Council Officers not editing effectively.
        The dyslexia was made an issue by the two Labour Cllr’s who took a fair bit of time allocated to them to ridicule the motion’s grammer, blaming Cllr Wing for this.
        This behaviour is wrong on any level. I’m curious as to why neither the Chair or Rick Everett intervened to stop this. Cllr’s have standards to adhere to (Nolan Principles) which were breached. Also, if one looks at the Crown Prosecution Service guidance, the two Cllr’s mocking Cllr Wing, could be charged with committing “hate speech”.

        • Being rude about someone’s grammar is surely not “hate speech”, although it was insensitive and unkind as well as rude.

          • The “crime” would relate to the insults being associated to the dyslexia, a protected characteristic.
            The rude critisism was made worse as the grammatical errors were limited to one or two typos.
            So it seems the Cllr’s fabricated the errors to mock the dyslexia.

  18. Taxpayers are paying our councillors to spend their time running Thanet. Whatever their personal views on international affairs are, they are exceeding their remit by spending time debating something that they neither understand nor can they influence. They represent the people of Thanet and cannot make such official decisions on behalf of their electorate. I hope they cancel their action and return the expenses they receive for wasting time, and hopefully, if they have an ounce of morality run an additional unpaid additional meeting for which they receive no compensation and discuss the pressing local matters.

  19. Well done Councillors, no time wasted there. Can we please we now have a vote, on whether we should have a really nice Easter. I saw on the news that some parents are saying Pepper Pig is setting a bad example. Maybe they could waste a few hours of Council time debating that. Or why belly button fluff is always blue?

    • But there’s a big difference between direct remit and matters totally outside any possibly imagined sphere of influence our councillors have. ( though their own delusions may believe otherwise).
      The conflict ultimately is a religous matter and as such nothing anyone says outside of either parties religion is pretty much going to be ignored unless it happens to be convenient.
      It’d be much easier to just them knock seven bells out of each other until one or the other triumphs, then sit back and wait for it eventually all start again.
      As for threats and intimidation interfering in how our country functions, anyone doing so needs locking up or given the opportunity to live elswhere if they prefer.

    • Blimey that last one would cause some sort of meltdown, there’d be those arguing it was all part of a historic tory plot to unduly influence the electorate and that going forward belly button fluff must be seen as red, yellow, green or blue or any other colour it may be “identified” as by the person from whoms belly button it came.

  20. Watch the recording criticism of the motion was about the wording of the motion not about spelling mistakes of dyslexia.
    Shame this has become the story rather than the passing of the motion.

  21. As @Dumpton pointed out, we can all do something. Like a few people I’ve been donating to Medical Aid for Palestinians, anyone who can spare some money can do this.
    TDC passing the ceasefire motion helps in that it makes a statement to UK government and shows other local authorities that this can be done, it shows, to those people in Thanet that care, that it’s doing what it can, it also meets its duty under international law as an arm of State Government.
    Doing anything is better than nothing. But, frankly, staying silent is better than flippant sarcasm and trying to divert the life and death issue to profile a view on grammer, or wordcounts!
    🇵🇸🏥💚

  22. I don’t think most people were trying to divert the issue. The article itself did not just describe the motion,and comments on various parts of it (the article) are only to be expected. For example, the description of councillors criticizing one of their colleagues’ grammar was not likely to be overlooked by readers.

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