Motion on Palestine-Israel

At the Annual Council meeting today (Thursday 23 May), councillors debated and unanimously approved a motion on Palestine-Israel. This follows a number of previous statements made by the Mayor at full council meetings, the text of which have been published on our news pages since October 2023 (19 October, 15 February, 29 February) 

The full text of the motion, including the commitments made by council as part of approving this motion, can be seen as follows:   

This Council notes:

  1. The City Council’s three previous statements (19 October, 15 February, 29 February) which condemned the attack by Hamas on the 7 October and called for ‘an immediate ceasefire, the return of hostages, unfettered access for humanitarian aid, peace in the Middle East, international support for a two-State solution and the upholding of international law.’ 
  2. That since October 7, according to the Gaza health ministry, the present Israeli Government has killed over 34,000 Palestinians, with over 77,000 wounded and 10,000 feared buried under the rubble in Gaza. 
  3. That the UN Secretary-General, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and others have said that Israel has committed grave violations of international law in its assault on Palestine. The International Court of Justice has ruled that there was a risk of irreparable harm to the Palestinian right to be protected from genocide. 
  4. UN experts including Special Rapporteurs Ben Saul, Margaret Satterthwaite and Independent Expert Cecilia Bailliet have warned that ‘any transfer of weapons or ammunition to Israel that would be used in Gaza is likely to violate international humanitarian law and must cease immediately’. 
  5. That the UK continues to sell arms to Israel which are being used in the ongoing conflict. They may be used in a way that creates further human suffering and prolong the conflict. By providing arms and military support to Israel, the UK Government could be complicit in this catastrophe. 
  6. That since 2015, the UK has licensed at least £474 million worth of military exports to Israel, including components for combat aircrafts, missiles, tanks, technology, small arms and ammunition. The UK provides approximately 15% of the components in the F-35 stealth bomber aircraft currently being used in Gaza. 
  7. In 2009, under a Labour government, the UK suspended arms licenses for naval guns due to their use against civilians in Gaza. In 2014, under a Conservative-led government, the UK said it would suspend licenses if hostilities resumed in Gaza. 
  8. A cross-party group of 134 parliamentarians have signed a letter to Foreign Secretary David Cameron and Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch MP, asking for them to immediately suspend export licenses for arms transfers to Israel. 
  9. On 8 May 2024, President Biden confirmed that the US had blocked an arms shipment of thousands of heavy bombs to Israel over fears that they could be used during Isrrael’s military operation in Rafah. Following this news, a former UK national security adviser has criticised Rishi Sunak for failing to suspend arms sales to Israel.

This Council calls on the current and any future UK Government to: 

  1. Press for an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza, Israel and the rest of Palestine and to make every effort to resume the peace process. 
  2. Work to ensure that international humanitarian law is upheld and that civilians are protected in accordance with those laws. 
  3. Work to ensure that civilians have access to humanitarian support, including unfettered access of medical supplies, food, fuel and water. 
  4. To immediately revoke all licences for arms exports to Israel and suspend arms sales to Israel. 

In addition, this Council will: 

  1. Investigate the implications of stopping banking with Barclays - which is known for investing over £2 billion in, and providing financial services to companies arming Israel worth £6.1 billion - and instead banking with an ethical bank. 
  2. Continue to condemn all forms of Islamophobia and Antisemitism and work to champion a city free from hate, including in the Council’s work to make Cambridge a City of Sanctuary.