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Jewish leaders meet city chiefs over flag storm

JEWISH leaders have held talks with officials at Glasgow City Council over the controversial decision to fly the Palestinian flag over the City Chambers today.

Paul Marron, president of the Glasgow Jewish Representative Council, said that yesterday's meeting with Council Leader Gordon Matheson and fellow councillor Archie Graham, Depute Leader of the Council, allowed them to set out their views and renew their call for the plan to be abandoned.

The local authority was last night still due to go ahead with the symbolic move to show solidarity with the people of Gaza and Bethlehem, which is twinned with Glasgow.

But Mr Marron said that Jewish community centres had been targeted by abusive phone-calls in the wake of the renewed conflict in Gaza and that flying the flag could inflame the situation.

Mr Marron said : "It was quite a worthwhile meeting to have. I think the council now have a better understanding of what the Jewish community's feelings on the matter are and the impact this will have.

"We did not agree on the flying of the flag or the politics of the situation, but it was a good discussion to have."

Councillor Graham said that the Council wanted to show support for the innocent people who are being hurt in Gaza.

He said that the decision to fly the flag "is not intended to show support for one side or the other in this conflict.

"The Lord Provost has written to the Mayor of Bethlehem, which is twinned with Glasgow, to offer condolences to the many people in the city and throughout Palestine who have been affected.

"We are hopeful that an immediate, enduring and peaceful resolution can be found to this conflict."

In her letter to the Mayor of Bethlehem, Glasgow's Lord Provost Councillor Sadie Docherty, said:"Glasgow is home to many friends of Palestine and this is a deeply distressing time for them. They represent a variety of ethnicities, political persuasions, faiths and none. However, they are united by a common desire to support the Palestinian people."

Meanwhile, protestors held a demonstration at the Scottish Parliament to call for an end to sales of weapons to Israel, which is currently engaged in a ceasefire with militants from Hamas in Gaza.

The activists wanted MSPS to have their picture taken with a banner calling on Westminster to stop granting licences to export arms to the Jewish state.

Police have also begun an investigation of Respect MP George Galloway, who declared Bradford "an Israel-free zone".

The maverick politician said Israelis are not welcome in the city where he has a constituency.

A spokesman for the West Yorkshire force said: "We have received two separate complaints about comments attributed to George Galloway MP during a speech he gave at a public meeting in Leeds. We are currently investigating."

Mr Galloway, who was filmed in front of the Palestinian flag, said: "We have declared Bradford an Israel-free zone. We don't want any Israeli goods. We don't want any Israeli services. We don't want any Israeli academics coming to the university or college.

"We don't even want any Israeli tourists to come to Bradford, even if any of them had thought of doing so.

"We reject this illegal, barbarous, savage state that calls itself Israel."

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Local government

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