The Council has voted to invite the head of a Palestinian village to the Guildhall while rejecting a unionist proposal to invite the Mayor of Jerusalem as well.
It will now formally invite Basel Mansour, head of the Bil’in Village Council in the West Bank, in its latest pro-Palestine solidarity move, after it recently voted to support a boycott of Israeli goods.
Independent Councillor Gary Donnelly told Council how “news of the boycott motion has made its way to Palestine and has been greatly welcomed.”
He proposed Mr Mansour, who will be travelling to Ireland, should be invited to address the Council.
UUP Alderman Derek Hussey suggested the Councillors should all hand in their iPad tablets, a reference to the face they are often powered by Israeli-manufactured processors, before a vote found a majority in support of an invite. Alderman Hussey then said: “Can I propose that we invite the Mayor of Jersualem to come to try and give some balance?”
Councillor Donnelly suggested this would be contrary to the Council’s policy in relation to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign.
Alderman Hussey’s propsoal was put and supported by the unionist bloc and the SDLP, but rejected by Sinn Féin and the Independents bar Patsy Kelly who abstained. Alderman Hussey’s invite fell by 19 votes to 18.
Speaking after the Council meeting, Catherine Hutton, branch representative, of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign said: “This invitation further enhances the links between Bil’in and Derry especially following the Derry IPSC show of solidarity on the Donegal/Derry border with Palestinian author and peace activist Iyad Burnat who himself comes from Bil’in and who on his return spoke in glowing terms to the Mayor of Bil’in about Derry IPSC and the warm reception he received at his book launch.
“With this invitation, Derry and Strabane District Council shows that it stands in solidarity with the people of Palestine and Bil’in by welcoming their Mayor.”