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Portsmouth pairing with Israeli city should be axed in conflict protest

Palestinians walk in front of destroyed buildings hit by an Israeli strike in Beit Lahiya, in the northern Gaza Strip. Picture: Adel Hana

Palestinians walk in front of destroyed buildings hit by an Israeli strike in Beit Lahiya, in the northern Gaza Strip. Picture: Adel Hana

PEOPLE have signed a petition to disband the twinning of Portsmouth with the Israeli city of Haifa.

More than 150 people have signed the petition calling for the disbandment of the Portsmouth Friendship Committee given the ongoing violence in Gaza.

Thousands of people have died since the Israeli-Palestinian conflict started anew.

Jez Stevens set the petition up. He said: ‘With all the news that’s going on, I just felt a bit powerless. These people are being bombed out of their homes, literally.

‘I’m not happy with these two councils being friends.

‘I just felt the council in Haifa ought to know that not everybody in Portsmouth thinks it’s okay for our councils to be friends.

‘If we won this, it’s another step to people understanding that not everybody is happy about what’s going on in that part of the world.’

Jez, 47, from Cyprus Road in Buckland, said he’s pleased with the response so far.

‘I’m pleased but I’m not surprised,’ he added.

‘I think a lot of people feel the way I do.

‘The government needs to be told they don’t represent all the people. It’s not really a democracy in Israel at the moment. There’s so much going on over there.

‘I know people who have been over there and some of the things they tell me I can’t get my head around. I can’t believe it.

‘But I am really heartened that people are spreading the word.’

Gaza’s health ministry has said that so far, 1,867 people have died, mainly civilians.

But Cllr John Ferrett, leader of the labour party in Portsmouth, said: ‘I believe the disbandment of the Haifa/Portsmouth Friendship Committee would be self-defeating.

‘The committee aims to foster friendship and understanding between citizens of the two cities and we should not be afraid to be a critical friend of the Israeli people.

‘As a member of Labour Friends of Israel I support efforts to strengthen relations between Britain and Israel, support those striving for peace, and call for the renunciation of violence and the spread of democracy across the region.

‘I also support the right of the Palestinian people to establish a democratic state, but do not believe this cause is best served by the terrorist actions of Hamas.’

To sign the petition visit chn.ge/1shkocz.

 

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