An online property listings company claims it is preparing to advertise holiday homes — in Gaza.
Propertyindex.com swung into action after councillors in Worcester backed plans to twin the city with the war-ravaged area.
Lee Bramzell said his company would soon be offering “desirable properties in the Israeli city” and expected “plenty of interest in the alternative destination”.
He explained that property prices will be based on those in Tel Aviv, where a four-bedroom home could be expected to sell for around £100,000. Sales would be possible “once estate agents in Gaza City begin to list their properties” on his website.
“As a Worcester business we want to actively support this twinning programme, and the people of Gaza City,” he added.
Worcester City Labour councillor Alan Amos (a former Conservative MP) proposed the sister-city motion at a meeting last week.
He had come up with the idea while watching news reports of the Gaza conflict during January.
“In Gaza they have been through a dreadful 40 years of occupation and then been blockaded. It’s a controversial view, but it is right,” he said.
Fellow Labour councillor Patricia Agar, who seconded the motion, added: “I had been asked on doorsteps what could be done to help.
“We understood the strength of feeling in Worcester over the Gaza conflict.
“This is what we came up with. It’s a personal message from the people of Worcester to the people of Gaza and it’s one of support.
“We expect a development of relations over time but are not suggesting we should talk to Hamas.”
The city has no future plans to twin with Israeli towns, but Ms Agar said the council “obviously thinks Israel has a right to exist in peace”.
Lior Ben Dor, spokesman for the Israeli embassy in London, said: “We assume the council is fully aware of the terrorist nature of the rulers of Gaza and comprehends that, while Gaza residents are held hostage by the destructive agenda of Hamas, they will find it rather difficult to fully benefit from everything that Worcester has to offer.”
The local authority’s ruling Conservative group does not support the proposal, but Tory councillor David Tibbutt said bureaucratic red tape had stopped the original motion being defeated.
“There are so many constitutional and political issues which would make this extremely difficult,” he said.
“We are not in the twinning game to make gestures. Ultimately, I do not expect it to happen.”
Worcester’s MP Michael Foster said that his fellow Labour party councillors had made the city a “laughing stock”.
A panel from the City of Worcester Twinning Association, which is independent of the council, will decide whether to go ahead with the plan at a meeting on Monday.