Manchester council rejects move to fly Palestinian flag


A Manchester City Council committee has rejected a proposal to fly the Palestinian flag over the town hall.

The Communities Scrutiny Committee turned down the move on Wednesday afternoon. The decision, which was welcomed by the Board of Deputies, will now have to be ratified by the full city council.

The proposal came before the committee after activist Mark Krantz, who is involved with Manchester’s branch of the Stop the War Coalition, started lobbying for the flag to be flown during last summer’s Gaza conflict, “as an expression of solidarity with over 400 children killed in Gaza,”

He set up a petition which was signed by more than 2,500 people. Any petition which achieves 1,000 signatures is debated by the committee.

Representatives from North West Friends of Israel, whose counter petition was signed by more than 3,000 people, were invited to speak at Wednesday’s meeting.

The group wrote to warn the council that by hoisting the controversial flag, “they run the risk of importing a conflict from many thousands of miles away to the streets of Manchester, which is no place for it.”

The official council policy states: “The Council does not normally fly the flags of other nations and does not mark national days.”

In the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Antisemitism’s report released on Monday, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles wrote to urge all bodies to refrain from displaying the Palestinian flag.

Mr Pickles said that flying the flag was “a clear political statement on an area of public policy for which the municipal body has no responsibility.

“More broadly, whatever one’s personal views on the situation in Israel and Gaza, elected representatives and councils should not be seeking to inflame community tensions. Whilst freedom of speech and freedom of association are important British liberties, they should be exercised with social responsibility.”

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