Bid for Edinburgh to establish twinning link with Gaza city

A rally outside the City Chambers tomorrow note-0 will formally launch a campaign for Edinburgh to twin with the Palestinian city of Gaza.

By Ian Swanson
Tuesday, 22nd March 2022, 4:55 am

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Councillors are due to consider a petition next week calling for the twinning which its advocates say would be an important symbolic move but would also give a practical boost to people in Gaza.

Campaigner Pete Gregson said: “Twinning with Gaza would be a fundamentally humanitarian act because it has been under siege for 15 years. It would be be a basic, symbolic agreement where the council extends the hand of friendship, a partnering with a city that is suffering.”

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But he hopes the twinning would also lead to online links between schools and other organisations in the two cities and partnerships between businesses here and IT coding academies in Gaza.

He said a lot of people in Gaza spoke good English and it was a very young population. “They are very keen to communicate.”

Edinburgh, with a population of around 450,000 and Gaza city with 550,000 are of roughly similar size.

He pointed out that Dundee is twinned with Nablus and Glasgow with Bethlehem. “Now Edinburgh can play its part in supporting Palestine,” he said.

A rally to launch the twinning campaign will take place outside Edinburgh City Chambers

“Once there is a twinning agreement it opens lots of doors – Dundee sent a fire engine to Nablus and each year firefighters from Nablus come to Dundee for training.”

And he said Moyle council in Northern Ireland, which no longer exists due to reorganisation, had also had a twinning with Gaza in 2012, which promoted links in football, health care, women’s issues, libraries, parks, sewage processing and education.

“If Moyle can do this with a population of 17,000, what could Edinburgh offer, with a population of half a million?"

He said if the council agrees the twinning, an Edina-Gaza Twinning Association would be established to take twinning activities forward with the aim of ensuring the twinning was at no cost to the council.

The rally outside the City Chambers, from 10am until 11.30am will include short speeches from Mr Gregson, who instigated the petition, and Palestinian Mohammed Alshorafa, who comes from Gaza City. There will also be Dibkah dancing with Samer.

Mr Gregson has been working with others for the past four years to press the twinning idea. His petition went on the website in 2019 and attracted 326 signatures, comfortably passing the 200 threshold required for it to be considered by councillors.

The bid is also supported by 115 people in Gaza who have signed a sister petition addressed to Edinburgh council leaders urging them to agree the twinning.

Mr Gregson says senior members of the SNP-Labour coalition, as well as the Greens, are sympathetic to the twinning proposal, but he is keen anyone who supports the move writes to their ward councillors.

And he plans a publicity drive is planned across the city with 13,000 flyers distributed by volunteers to shops and eateries.

“This is a great opportunity. If successful it will mark a significant step forward in ending the international isolation of Gaza.”

Edinburgh is already twinned with the Ukrainian capital Kyiv and has just agreed to give the freedom of the city to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky and Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko.

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