Israel-Hamas conflict: Council bans petition calling for a ceasefire

By Robert Firth, Local Democracy Reporter

A man has blasted a council’s “puzzling” decision to ban his petition calling for it to back a ceasefire in Gaza.

Lambeth council has refused to publish Faraz Hassan’s petition demanding that the Labour-run council write to the UK government calling for it to support a ceasefire, saying that it would be in breach of the Code of Recommended Practice on Local Authority Publicity.

The council said hosting the petition on its website would mean it would be in breach of Government guidance on what local authorities should print. It also said the council was unable to act over the issue.

But 35-year-old Mr Hassan, who lives in Streatham, has accused the council of a double standard over Palestine, pointing out that the council has previously taken a vocal position on other international issues such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

He said: “I think they are going with the Labour Party line and not calling for a ceasefire. They are trying to keep quiet about it and hoping it blows over. The purpose of the petition is to get them to take a position on it.

“For Ukraine, they put the flag on the council building. And here we are not able to post a petition on the website. I’m really disappointed. It’s just a petition. It’s puzzling. They won’t even let us talk about it.”

Lambeth Town Hall in Brixton flying the Ukrainian flag (Picture: Google Street View)

An extract from Mr Hassan’s rejected petition reads: “We the undersigned petition the council to back a ceasefire now, including for Lambeth council to write to the UK Government and Labour Party leadership calling for a ceasefire now, and for Lambeth Council to call an emergency full council meeting on the situation.”

As a result of the council’s refusal to host his petition on its website, Mr Hassan instead posted it on on November 23. As of this morning it had racked up 187 signatures.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has refused to back a ceasefire in Gaza, arguing that such a measure would strengthen Hamas. He has instead called for “humanitarian pauses” – much shorter periods of no fighting to allow aid to enter.

But other senior figures in Labour, including mayor of London Sadiq Khan and Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham, have called for a ceasefire. Labour-run councils such as Liverpool and Preston have also voted to support a ceasefire.

Israel and Hamas agreed to a four-day halt in fighting that began on Friday. The ceasefire is now in its final 24 hours. The deal also involved the release of hostages by Hamas and the freeing of Palestinian prisoners by Israel.

A Lambeth council spokesman said: “Lambeth council actively promotes peace and harmony between all faiths in our diverse borough, and our thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by the horrific violence in the Middle East.

“The council has set out why this petition was rejected; it being in breach of the Code of Recommended Practice on Local Authority Publicity.”

Pictured top: Faraz Hassan said the council’s refusal to host his petition was “puzzling” (Picture: Robert Firth)

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