Sydney Greens in Israel boycott defeat

By Dan Goldberg, April 28, 2011

An Australian local council abandoned its controversial bid to boycott Israel following intense pressure from Jewish groups, politicians and the media.

Marrickville Council, in inner Sydney, voted in December to join the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign. But after a fiery public meeting requiring police protection, most of the 12 councillors withdrew support for the BDS "in any form".

Marrickville's original support for the BDS prompted New South Wales Premier Barry O'Farrell to threaten to sack the councillors for meddling in foreign policy, while Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd accused them of being "just plain nuts".

The Australian newspaper, which is unashamedly pro-Israel, ran almost daily attacks on the Greens, a junior coalition partner in Australia's Labour government.

But despite bearing the brunt of a "sledgehammer", Marrickville Mayor Fiona Byrne claimed victory, saying her council had "put the human rights of the Palestinian people on the national agenda".

New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies CEO Vic Alhadeff said the rescission of the resolution was "a victory for common sense".

Last updated: 11:41am, April 28 2011