Edinburgh turns down pleas to fly Palestinian flag

The Palestinian flag won't be flown above Edinburgh City Chambers. Picture: Getty
The Palestinian flag won't be flown above Edinburgh City Chambers. Picture: Getty
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The Palestinian flag will not be flown above the City Chambers – despite calls for the gesture as a mark of solidarity with victims of Israeli military action in Gaza.

The banner of the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) – an alliance of 13 UK charities, including Action Aid, Oxfam and Save The Children – is set to be raised instead under new proposals from city chiefs.

It is understood the move is aimed at showing support for those affected by the violence while maintaining political neutrality.

The plans – due to be 
rubber-stamped at next week’s full council meeting – come after Edinburgh’s Green group lodged a motion calling for the Palestinian flag to be flown as a “gesture of solidarity with the people of Gaza”.

Councils in Fife, West Dunbartonshire and Glasgow have already moved to acknowledge the Palestinian plight by flying their colours on civic buildings.

City leader Andrew Burns said: “I, like many others, have been deeply appalled and distressed to witness the recent loss of innocent life in Gaza and will be submitting a motion to next week’s council meeting supporting an immediate ceasefire, as called for by the United Nations.

“I will also propose that a Disasters Emergency Committee Appeal flag, prominently featuring the telephone donation line, is flown at the City Chambers entrance and that the appeal is promoted via the council’s internal and external websites.”

Amid ongoing efforts to bring about the end of Gaza’s month-long war, aid agencies are working to alleviate civilians’ suffering, with Edinburgh-based Mercy Corps now the second largest humanitarian aid provider after the UN.

Backers of the call to fly Palestine’s flag have expressed disappointment that the idea has been rejected.

Councillor Chas Booth, who lodged the Greens’ motion, said: “I’m delighted by any steps that the council takes to reduce the suffering of the people of Gaza and express our solidarity with them, but I would hope that also extends to flying the Palestinian flag.”

Scots have added £556,000 to the DEC appeal, which has collected £8 million in donations in five days.

Leaders of Scotland’s Israeli community have welcomed the development.

Dr Ezra Golombok, director of the Israel Information Office in Scotland, said: “A decision by Edinburgh City Council to fly a flag in support of aid to civilians in Gaza, rather than of Hamas, as was proposed, shows wisdom.

“Focus is now directed to relief of suffering rather than to giving political support to an organisation labelled terrorist by countries throughout the world.”