Sydney council condemns Israel for ‘war crimes’


SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) — A local government council in Sydney passed a motion condemning Israel for "war crimes and violations of human rights" in Gaza.

Marrickville, an inner-city council that controversially signed a sister-city relationship with Bethlehem in 2007, voted 9-3 in favor of the Feb. 17 motion.

The motion was proposed by Councilor Cathy Peters, who said the issue was "close to her heart" because her father was a Jewish refugee who fled Berlin in 1938.

In a statement, Peters said, "I am horrified by Israel’s attacks on Gaza and think that Marrickville Council — especially considering its sister-city relationship with Bethlehem — should take a humanitarian stand against the continued oppression of the Palestinian people by the State of Israel."

New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies chief executive Vic Alhadeff blasted the motion.

"It is full of inaccuracies, uncritically accepting assertions which have been exposed as Hamas propaganda, leveling charges against Israel for which no foundation in fact or international law has been established, and ignoring realities on the ground," Alhadeff said.

The motion called for "a permanent end to the Israeli blockade of Gaza; for Israel to withdraw from all settlements in the occupied territories; to negotiate with the [Palestinian Authority]; and for an international independent investigation into war crimes and violations of human rights and Geneva Conventions in Gaza by the Israeli occupation forces."

A second local council, Canterbury, in southwest Sydney, also passed a motion last week that "condemns all violence, and is particularly concerned with this disproportionate offensive of Israel," according to a report in The Australian newspaper.  

Meanwhile, activists launched a campaign earlier this month to boycott Max Brenner, the Israeli-owned chocolatier that has seven stores in Sydney.

"Choose an alternative to Max Brenner and apply the pressure on Israeli goods that support war crimes and occupation," say leaflets urging a boycott.

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