Green Party Motion on Peace

Bath and North East Somerset Council

Full Council meeting -Thursday 14th March 2024

Cllr. Joanna Wright – Motion on Peace

To be proposed by the Green Group

Council Notes:

  1. The conflict between Israel and Hamas (Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiya) has heightened security concerns, exacerbation of social and political divisions, potential distress among diaspora communities, the occurrence of protests or demonstrations, and the influence of media coverage on public perceptions and attitudes within B&NES.
  2. The conflict between Israel and Hamas has not only impacted our residents and communities, but it has also affected local council. For example:
    1. there was damage and graffiti related to the conflict found at the Bath Labour offices on November 14, 2023;
    2. during the November Council meeting on 30th November 2023, local resident Nicola James, condemned the violence in the Israel-Gaza conflict and urged councillors to support a permanent ceasefire, as documented in the meeting minutes available at;
    3. today, four separate public speakers expressed their condemnation of the situation in Gaza, supporting a ceasefire (Jibraan Kidwai ‘The plausible ruling of genocide in the ICJ and how it affects the people of Bath’, Emma Owens ‘The impact of the Israel/Gaza war on the people of the city of Bath’, Johyna Ballout ‘The situation in Palestine and its impact on the residents of Bath, Alice Georgiou ‘The impact of the Israel/Gaza conflict on the people of BANES’ [http://vm-civ-mgov/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=272&MId=6322]);
    4. Wael Arafat, whose family and friends have died in the conflict, has been admitted to the Royal United Hospital in Bath following a hunger strike calling for a ceasefire in Gaza;
    5. events held at The Guildhall, such as The Interfaith gathering on 5th February 2024, underscore the undeniable impact of this international conflict on B&NES resources.
  3. Moreover, the recent Houthi attacks on ships in the Red Sea following the Israel-Gaza conflict, coupled with subsequent US and UK airstrikes on Yemen, have disrupted shipping routes. Yemen Houthi leader, Abdul Malik al-Houthi, has stated that the group will escalate their actions further if the “barbaric and brutal aggression against Gaza” continues. This disruption is causing delays in the delivery of goods, leading to supply chain bottlenecks and increased logistics costs.

Given that the Red Sea serves as a critical maritime corridor for global trade, connecting Europe, Asia, and Africa, any disruption in this region can have far-reaching effects on global trade flows. Consequently, international conflicts such as these also affect B&NES residents and businesses through increased consumer prices, energy prices due to disruptions in oil transportation, and heightened investment and trade uncertainty.

  • That East Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Golan Heights, and Gaza are internationally recognised as being under illegal occupation by Israel[1] (United Nations);
    • Furthermore, Gaza has been subject to 16 years of blockade[2] (Amnesty International);
    • Multiple NGOs recognise a system of apartheid within this region[3] (Amnesty International).
  • On the 7th October 2023, Palestinian militant group, Hamas, launched an assault on Israel – the deadliest attack on a Jewish community since the end of the Holocaust[4] (European Parliament).
  • All nations have a right to self-determination and self-defence, but these must be conducted within international law[5] (United Nations).
  • A devastating and violent conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza has ensued since 7th October 2023:
    • According to estimates from the Gazan Ministry of Health, more than 27,000 Palestinians have lost their lives during this conflict, additionally 1,200 Israelis have been killed. 66,000 Palestinians have been injured, and a further 5,400 Israelis during the same period [6] (House of Lords);
    • Only 14 of the 36 hospitals in Gaza are partially functional, facing shortages of medical staff, fuel, and supplies (ibid.).
    • Trucks carrying supplies to Gaza have been deemed by UN officials as “grossly inadequate” (ibid.).
    • Access to vulnerable populations in certain areas of Gaza has been restricted or denied by the Israeli government [7](House of Lords);
      • There is a significant shortage of food in Gaza, with 2 million people at imminent risk of famine, according to the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) (ibid.);
      • Clean water is almost completely inaccessible, which has led to the spread of disease due to the inadequate sanitation facilities (ibid.);
    • Around 1.7 million people, approximately 75 percent of Gaza’s total population, have been displaced (ibid.);
      • the impact of conflict on displacing people from their homes makes them asylum seekers and refugees who then flee, which further compounds challenges in the asylum system.
    • More than 130 Israeli hostages are still detained by Hamas and other armed groups[8]. Israel also holds at least 2,070 Palestinian administrative detainees without charge, and they are denied the ability to stand trial [9](ibid., Aljazeera);
      • The Geneva Convention defines ‘the taking of hostages’ as ‘grave breaches’ and are defined as War Crimes by Article 8 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court[10] (United Nations);
    • That under Article II of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, genocide is defined as certain acts “committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group” and that, under Article I, the UK has confirmed that genocide is a crime under international law which it undertakes to prevent and to punish[11].
    • That the intentional directing of attacks against a civilian population who are not partaking in hostilities – or civilian objects which are not military objectives – are defined as War Crimes under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court [12] (United Nations).
    • The International Court of Justice (ICJ), the highest court of the United Nations, has heard a case between South Africa and Israel, concerning allegations of genocide[13].
      • The ICJ have issued an interim ruling including provisional measures instructing Israel to prevent genocidal acts and enable humanitarian assistance.
      • Despite the ICJ on January 22 ordering Israel to comply with the 1948 Genocide Convention, the rate of civilian casualties in Gaza has not abated[14].
    • Since the ICJ ruling, Israel has launched another deadly assault on Gaza’s southernmost city, Rafah.
      • Hundreds of thousands of refugees had fled to Rafah, assured of its safety from Israel[15] (Amnesty International);
      • At least 95 civilians, nearly half of them children, have been killed in four unlawful strikes in Rafah (ibid.);
      • Amnesty International warn that Israel has already violated international law through the multiple assaults on Rafah[16].
    1. Recognises that the UK has an historical responsibility in this conflict and should support innocent civilians affected by it while striving to secure long-term peace.
    2. Reinforces that Hamas do not represent the Palestinian people – and the Palestinian people are not Hamas.
    3. Reiterates the ICJ’s insistence that Israel must ‘take all measures within its power’ to prevent acts contravening the genocide convention, ensuring, ‘with immediate effect’, that its forces do not commit any act of genocide and immediately improve the humanitarian situation in Gaza.
    4. Expresses deep sympathy for all those affected by the conflict in Israel and Palestine, offering support to those in the B&NES area impacted by this conflict.
    5. Believes in the long term there can only be a political solution to this crisis;
      1. Discussions must restart immediately for a two-state solution, aiming for a safe and viable Palestinian state alongside a safe and secure Israel, to achieve lasting peace.
    6. Hopes for an immediate and unconditional release of all hostages.
    7. Calls for an immediate ceasefire to allow more aid and the possibility of a peaceful resolution;
      1. acknowledges polls show over 70% of the British public surveyed support a ceasefire[17];
      2. aware of the ‘Open Letter to BANES Councillors’[18], and the desire within B&NES for the councillor’s comment and support of a ceasefire;
      3. understand that ceasefire has been called for by the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, UNICEF, Save the Children, the head of the WHO, and Oxfam;
      4. recognises that the ceasefire from November 24th to 30th 2023, during which some hostages were freed, gave relief to civilians and aid groups in Gaza. It shows that conflict can stop if the regional players choose to make it happen.
    8. Believes that Muslims, Jews, and people of all faiths and none should feel safe and supported worldwide and condemns the increase in antisemitic and Islamophobic violence and abuse in the UK.
    9. Affirms all political leaders have a responsibility to try to prevent genocide, such as the annihilation of the civilian population of Gaza, Hamas’, and the Houthis call for the annihilation of Jewish people, and any other innocent civilian population facing such appalling circumstances.
    Council therefore:
    1. Repeats its dedication to combat racism and discrimination in our communities by adhering to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of Antisemitism and the definition of Islamophobia provided by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims.
    2. Condemns the use of all dehumanizing language, calling on our communities to treat each other with respect and refrain from inflammatory terms to describe either the Palestinian or Israeli populations, especially in a time of crisis.
    3. Through the Equalities Action Commission, resolves to explore how the Council can better support and facilitate events for people of all faiths and none, enabling them to come together and express solidarity and sadness in response to these events.
    4. Offers appropriate support to any local resident who needs our assistance because of these violent events.
    5. Supports the UK Resettlement Scheme to allow a route to safety for the most vulnerable in Gaza with emergency pathways for those seeking refuge from the conflict.
    6. Stands ready to provide support and open our arms to innocent people displaced and affected by these events.
    7. Asks the Council Leaders to write to Government, calling for the following:
      1. Urging a ceasefire, the release of hostages, and advocate for lasting peace with a two-state solution on the global stage and in United Nations votes.
      2. Additionally, calling for a review of all UK arms sales.
        1. Israel relies on certain weapon parts manufactured in the UK, including the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter whose essential components are made here[19];
        2. Noting that a Dutch court has today ordered the state to cease the export of F-35 spare parts to Israel (ibid.).
      3. To support introducing targeted sanctions against key individuals. This would include travel bans and asset freezes on Israel’s leadership and cabinet members, in particular those calling for new settlements in Gaza and the annexation of the West Bank.
      4. To consider implementing the requirements of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign across the UK economy. This would include excluding Israel from international sporting and music events; withdrawing all public money from funds with investments in Israel; and ending beneficial trade arrangements with Israel until there is a ceasefire.
      5. To encourage UK authorities, including the Metropolitan Police and Director of Public Prosecutions, to pursue perpetrators of war crimes committed where UK citizens are the victims or where UK citizens are potential perpetrators.
    8. Fly the UN flag as a symbol of peace outside the town hall until a ceasefire is agreed.
    • [1]
    • [2]
    • [3]
    • [4]
    • [5]
    • [6]
    • [7]
    • [8] Ibid.
    • [9]
    • [10]
    • [11]
    • [12]
    • [13],Gaza%20Strip%20and%20requested%20the
    • [14],the%20human%20rights%20organisation%20said.
    • [15]
    • [16],the%20human%20rights%20organisation%20said.
    • [17]
    • [18]
    • [19]

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