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City to recognise Palestine: Motion proposed by Council supports statehood

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Photo by Sheffield Labour Friends of Palestine.

Sheffield may become the first city in the UK to recognise Palestine as a sovereign state.

Councillors gave their backing on Wednesday to calls made by campaign group Sheffield Labour Friends of Palestine.

Labour have said they will table a motion at Full Council which will declare the city's recognition of Palestine.

The entirety of Palestine has been under Israeli military occupation since 1967. The occupation is widely considered to be illegal under international law.

There has to be a peace process, and there has to be a right of the Palestinian people to live in peace, as well as the right of Israel

"My own belief is that there must be recognition of the rights of Palestinians to their own sovereign state," said Deputy Council Leader Olivia Blake.

"This recognition of Palestine as a state is one step towards a genuine two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict," she continued.

"There has to be a peace process, and there has to be a right of the Palestinian people to live in peace, as well as the right of Israel."

"This why I can today announce that this Council's Labour administration will table a motion for councillors to vote on whether to recognise Palestine as sovereign state."

Today is an amazing day

The motion will almost certainly pass with the support of the cabinet.

Dozens of councillors joined activists to raise the Palestinian flag outside the Town Hall on Wednesday morning. "Today is an amazing day," said Sheffield Labour Friends of Palestine in a statement.

As of August 2018, 137 out of 193 UN member countries recognise Palestine as a sovereign state.

In October 2014, Parliament passed a motion supporting recognition. The government has said it would only recognise Palestine if it agrees to non-member 'observer' status at the UN.

The United States has opposed international recognition. In 2011, President Obama said that "genuine peace can only be realised between Israelis and Palestinians themselves."

The Palestinian government see international recognition as an important step towards legitimacy.

Cllr Blake acknowledged that Sheffield's declaration will have little practical effect.

"Sheffield is just one city - but we can make this symbolic gesture to formally recognise Palestine as a sovereign state and hope to put pressure on the UK government to do likewise," she said.

Sam Gregory

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Deputy Council Leader Olivia Blake raises the Palestinian flag outside the Town Hall. Photo by Sheffield Labour Friends of Palestine.

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