As pressure mounts for Palestine, more councils take a stand for ceasefire

January 2, 2024
Palestine supporters outside the Hume Council meeting on December 18. Photo: Sue Bolton

As the pro-Palestine justice movement grows, more Victorian councils have condemned Israel’s genocide of Gaza and joined the global call for a ceasefire.

Yarra, Darebin, Hume and Wyndham councils all passed pro-Palestine motions over December last year — a response to community pressure.

This follows the pro-Palestine motions passing at the Merri-bek, Maribyrnong and Dandenong Councils.

Darebin’s motion included a call for council to raise the Palestinian flag over Preston Town Hall and to investigate how to cut ties with “companies and suppliers that support the illegal occupation of Palestinian territories”.

A motion calling for ceasefire put by Councillor Seema Abdullah on November 24 to the Greater Shepparton City Council was narrowly voted down (4 to 5).

Monash City Council on December 19 debated a motion that “acknowledges the immense pain and suffering ... among the members of the Palestinian diaspora”. The motion was voted down 2 to 6.

Pressure from the community has been the driving force behind these motions: the large mobilisations each week in the city and communities mobilising outside the council directly have both been critical.

Some protests outside councils have drawn hundreds of people, such as outside the Broadmeadows Town Hall on December 18.

Merri-Bek councillor Sue Bolton told Green Left that self-organisation in the Muslim and Arabic communities is “putting pressure on local councils” and is “inspiring others to pressure their council to pass similar motions”.

Long-time Palestine solidarity activist Mohammad Helmy told GL that such motions are “very significant” for the Muslim and Arabic communities.

“It means a lot that the pain and suffering of the local community is being recognised” by local government. He said Muslim and Arabic communities are feeling immense grief from watching the war on social media.

Helmy said the Palestine solidarity movements face “a lot of resistance” from councillors’ initial reluctance to support a ceasefire motion. He said where ceasefire motions have passed can be put down to the efforts of “community campaigners”.

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