SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) — A local council in Australia that has a sister-city relationship with Bethlehem voted to join the international boycott of Israel.
The Marrickville Council in inner Sydney voted 10-2 on Dec. 14 to support a ban on any government, academic, trade, sporting or cultural ties with Israel.
The council, which is dominated by members of the Green and Labor parties, first raised the ire of the Jewish community with its 2007 vote to adopt the sister-city relationship with Bethlehem. The action prompted the government to warn lawmakers that they risked breaking the law if they met with Hamas members on the Bethlehem council.
New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies CEO Vic Alhadeff told JTA that “Boycotts are the worst option. Over 50,000 Palestinians work in Israel, which means Palestinian workers will pay the heaviest price if their employers are boycotted.
“It would be far more positive for the council to participate in peace projects and assist in the nation-building of a future state of Palestine," he said. "That means engaging, not disengaging.”
The boycott, divestment and sanctions movement also has garnered the support of the New South Wales Greens Party, which unanimously endorsed the boycott earlier this month, as did some Australian trade unions.