Republican councillors sitting on Derry City and Strabane District Council have urged Dublin to expel the Israeli ambassador to Ireland, Zeev Boker, over the massacre of 17 Palestinians in Gaza on Good Friday.
The Israel Defence Force (IDF) killings on March 30 were likened to the events of Bloody Sunday during a debate at the council’s monthly meeting for April.
A motion by Sinn Féin councillor, Mickey Cooper, proposing that Ireland expel Mr. Boker in response to the recent “massacre of civilians at the Palestinian border by Israeli State forces”, was ultimately passed with the support of Sinn Féin and the council’s block of republican independents.
Colr. Cooper said the slaughter of Palestinian protestors who were taking part in the Hamas-organised ‘Great March of Return’ to their ‘occupied’ homeland on Good Friday was “remarkably similar to the events of Bloody Sunday.”
He said the reaction and justifications from the Israeli authorities in the wake of the bloodshed echoed those of London in the aftermath of January 30, 1972.
The expulsion of the Israeli ambassador from Dublin would send a clear message of “solidarity with the beleaguered Palestinian nation”, argued Colr. Cooper.
Prior to the motion being passed, SDLP Councillor Martin Reilly expressed concern that the motion would not have the “impact that the Palestinian people want to see”.
He suggested that the council should instead ask the Irish Government to call on the United Nations to “immediately intervene to bring about a peaceful solution in the area”. A proposed amendment to this effect, however, was ruled by the Mayor, Colr. Maolíosa McHugh, to be a separate motion and, as such, was not put to a vote.
A further proposed amendment by the Independent republican councillor, Paul Gallagher, that added a clause demanding the council follow through on its Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) policy against Israel, was also deemed to be a separate motion and was not voted on.
An amendment tabled by fellow Independent republican councillor, Gary Donnelly, urging all political parties to desist from any further meetings with Israel’s ruling Likud party was voted upon, however, but the amendment fell when Sinn Féin voted against it and the SDLP and unionist councillors abstained.
Colr. Cooper said Sinn Féin would not be supporting the amendment as it was not party policy to rule out negotiations with any group. He said Palestinian representatives had themselves been trying to have a dialogue with Likud, albeit unsuccessfully.
“Our focus is on the IDF and its actions,” he said.
The debate on the motion was marked by bad-tempered exchanges with DUP Alderman Graham Warke reminding the independent bloc that their “iPads are made in Israel”.
DUP Alderman Drew Thompson said he would be interested to see the reaction of ratepayers to the debate and the motion, saying the council should stick to issues relevant to it and over which it had jurisdiction.