Manchester City Council

Gaza and Manchester

This is the text of a statement I made at today's meeting of the City Council;


Can I quote from a letter sent on behalf of Labour Councillors in the city:

“This senseless loss of civilian lives is shocking and horrific; the cycle of mutual threat and retaliation have no lasting effect except to reinforce the misery and insecurity of everyone in the region and is making the road to peace even more difficult. There is no military solution for either side in this conflict.  

Further acceleration of violence in recent days requires that our government, together with other countries redouble their efforts to bring about an immediate cessation of violence from both sides”.

That letter about Gaza was sent to the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary five and a half years ago and if anything with over 1000 people, primarily Palestinian civilians killed in the last few weeks, peace is even further away.

I am not going to take sides.  Whatever the justification given, I cannot support Israel ’s bombardments of Gaza , nor can I support Hamas firing rockets into Southern Israel .  Gaza is now in the midst of a humanitarian crisis that requires the immediate opening of crossings to permit the flow of aid, commercial goods and people. It has gone on for far too long.  Israel and Palestine need a permanent ceasefire and the population, Arab and Jew alike need the opportunity to build a secure and prosperous future.

There is no doubt that the current conflict has inflamed emotions in this country and we support as we always have the right of Manchester people to peacefully protest.  However, this Council cannot support those who seek to bring this conflict into our city and drive wedges between communities whose home is not the Middle East but is here in Manchester .  We cannot support the use of language that would not have been out of place in 1930s Germany . We cannot support Manchester businesses, their staff and their customers being subject to abuse and intimidation as they attempt to go about their ordinary, everyday lives.

We do expect GMP to ensure that right to peaceful protest is maintained but we also expect them to deal robustly with anti-semitic incitement, just as we would Islamophobia, homophobia or any other hate crime and we expect them to protect the right of shops to trade, shopworkers to work and their customers to visit them and to do so without fear.

There are 13 responses to “Gaza and Manchester”

  1. Robert Says:

    The current situation for the Kedem shop on King Street is unfair and in light of this declaration, would it not be fair to move the Gaza protesters to a neutral locaiton which does not target specific businesses this way which is a intimidating and divisive for the ocmmunity

  2. Martin Spitzer Says:

    I am also disturbed greatly by the situation in Gaza, and since Manchester has a large Muslim Community and Jewish community, and since we have lived in peace in Manchester for so long, and since the protests have already caused emotions to run high on both sides, I plead the council to stay neutral on this matter and not to escalate matters by taking sides.
    If you can legally stop the protesting of both sides that would be a great victory for Manchester

  3. Shana khan Says:

    thank you!! So good to read this because right now I am intimidated o enter manchester because of the pro Palestinan demonstrations everywhere

  4. Miriam Cohen Says:

    Thanks for this, wonderful that you will not be taking sides - we all need to be allowed to trade freely but how will you protect Kedem?? I'm sick of seeing both sides on king street, give the demonstrators a set place to protest from I also was disgusted seeing them in marks and spencer it reminds me of the 1930s stand up to racism please

  5. Claire Davies Says:

    I agree with what you have said however you have offered no solution like in Israel Palestine you've made a statement yet settled nothing!! Kedem needs protecting and you are not helping by dong nothing your making it worse actually frankly I'm disgusted by your lack of action. I was in m&s when the rioters entered and it was terrifying. I appreciate they have a freedom of speech but they are a nuisance on our streets and are inciting racial hatred shame on you not moving them on

  6. Sergio Adamson Says:

    So you are doing nothing to protect Kedem that's what you are saying ?

  7. Jake S Says:

    Please remove these people from King Street. They can protest where there is space, and targeting a single shop is cowardly and thuggish. This is pure harassment and should not be allowed under the guise of "free speech".

  8. Danny Zaitman Says:

    The Kedem store, M&S and Barkleys Bank have taken the brunt of the pro palastinian protest. What exactly are Manchester council going to do about it specifically? These are businesses that pay business rates directly in to your coffers! They have a right to proceed unhindered or do they deserve a rebate?

  9. G Butterworth Says:

    The removal of the Kedem boycott on King Street would in no way indicate neutrality. Both pro-Palestinian and Pro-Israeli protesters are exercising their right of peaceful protest there, and to suppress this would be a suppression of free speech. It bears mentioning that neither the police or the CST have reported any anti-semitic incidents in relation to this protest. The use of language "not out of place in 1930s Germany" is nothing more than a fantasy.

  10. John Davies Says:

    I'm sick to death at not being able to shop properly on King Street, with the mob of protestors. It's outrageous. Stop boycotting British shops!

  11. David Says:

    Please do not look the other way and hope this all disappears. Sadly, I don't think it will for some time. You have to make a stand for peace not popularity. Allow people to protest but peacefully and away from king street.

  12. J Pritchard Says:

    I have chatted with both sides of the protest on King Street and they are both very calm and organized and putting their views forward. It would be a violation of Article 10 and 11 of the European convention on human rights to move the protest. These rights are to protect us and should be respected. Let them stay where they are and let the people of Manchester hear what is going on in Gaza.

  13. Tony Zimnoch Says:

    If people break the law,they are already arrested.Are you really saying that people do not have the right to make peaceful protest?THAT sounds like 1930's Germany to me.



The blog of the leader of Manchester City Council, Councillor Richard Leese.

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