It is best known for its association with the infamous witch trials of the 17th century, but the Lancashire area of Pendle has now set its sights on a new scapegoat – Israel.
A twinning agreement with the West Bank town of Beit Lid has been backed by local councillors in a show of solidarity following what they said were “Israeli attacks” which “continue to hinder the chance of peace in the Middle East”.
The proposal was apparently inspired by the Pendle for Palestine group, which helped run a “Pray for Gaza” rally in the area following last month’s violent clashes between Israel and Hamas. Councillors voted to “congratulate” the rally organisers for bringing together “the young people of Pendle”.
The twinning was confirmed at last Tuesday’s Pendle Borough Council meeting. The vote had been split 19-19 after LibDem councillors — who share power in the borough with Conservatives — sided with Labour group leader Mohammed Iqbal, who proposed the motion. Labour mayor Asjad Mahmood gave the twinning the go-ahead with his casting vote.
One council insider said concern for Palestinians appeared to be secondary to Labour councillors’ attempts to “jockey for position” ahead of a decision on who will be the party’s parliamentary candidate in the Pendle constituency for the 2015 general election.