Welsh council embargoes Israel over Gaza “savageness”

The Israeli destruction of Gaza this summer shocked many people around the world. Now one local council in Wales is taking action.

Mohammed Asad APA images

A local council in north Wales last week voted to condemn Israel’s summer war on the Gaza Strip by blocking all trade relations with Israel, local press reported.

News North Wales quotes councillor Owain Williams, who put forward the motion, as condemning the “over-reaction and savageness used” by Israel in Gaza.

Councillors on 9 October voted 42-3 in favor of the motion, with six abstentions.

According to another local press source, Gwynedd council does not do any trade with Israel so the vote is largely symbolic.

However, the vote could set a precedent for other councils around the UK to follow.

Gwynedd council’s decision not to trade with Israel sent the pro-Israel lobby into a rage. Former Jewish Leadership Council leader Jeremy Newmark slammed the council on Twitter:

During Monday’s House of Commons debate that led to Parliament recongnizing the “state of Palestine” (a move strongly supported by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, over which The Electronic Intifada’s Ali Abunimah signaled a strong note of caution), a local MP signaled approval of the council’s decision.

Hywel Williams, Plaid Cymru (The Party of Wales) member for Arfon, said Gwynedd “has taken a lead in condemning the Israeli Government for the indiscriminate violence used in the recent attacks in Gaza and will not invest in or trade with Israel.”

Groundbreaking

Sarah Colborne of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign told The Electronic Intifada today that Gwynedd’s decision was “groundbreaking” and that it was a sign that “the brakes are off post-Gaza” war.

Other local councils around the UK, after pressure from local Palestine solidarity campaigns to boycott Israel, have made more specific decisions not to invest in occupation-linked companies such as Veolia.

But Gwynedd’s motion is the first to have been as comprehensive. Via Twitter, one local Palestine Solidarity Campaign chapter said it was time for other local councils to follow suit:

Welsh-speaking region

With some 76 percent of the population speaking Welsh, the region of Gwynedd is a heartland of Welsh nationalism.

Gwynedd council’s majority group is Plaid Cymru, closely followed by independent nationalists and The Llais Gwynedd (Voice of Gwynedd) group – a breakaway regional movement formed by former members of the left wing Plaid Cymru (Labour and the Liberal Democrats have four and two seats on the council respectively, while the Conservatives have none).

Llais Gwynedd leader Owain Williams, who proposed this motion to boycott Israel, is a Welsh nationalist whose faction broke with Plaid in 2008 over proposed rural school closures.

Williams was jailed in the 1960s over the sabotage bombing of the Llyn Celyn reservoir project. The reservoir was built to supply the English city of Liverpool with water, but faced fierce Welsh opposition since it involved the drowning of Capel Celyn village and several other rural localities.

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So the symbolic vote of Gwynedd, a small rural hamlet in Wales which does not trade with Israel, votes not to trade with Israel over the savage Israeli attack on Gaza and the batshit crazy bully Israel goes ballistics. I presume we are safe to assume the Israelis are getting a bit touchy about criticism if they can get loud in official protests against this small but much appreciated vote in condemnation of Israel.

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Diolch yn fawr iawn, Gwynedd for taking this vitally important step in support of Palestine and international law. Hopefully your action will precipitate similar boycott resolutions in councils not just around the UK, but internationally. I'm so proud to be Welsh and a fighter for the liberation of Palestine.

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Fantastic news! Thank you Wales! I am not Welsh or Palastinian but I thank you from the bottom of my heart! Viva Cymru!

Asa Winstanley

Asa Winstanley's picture

Asa Winstanley is an investigative journalist who lives in London. He is an associate editor with The Electronic Intifada. He first visited Palestine in 2004.