Page last updated at 14:14 GMT, Thursday, 26 February 2009

Worcester backs Gaza twinning bid

Gaza City
Israel launched an assault on Gaza in December

A UK city council says it wants to twin with Gaza as a "humanitarian gesture".

But Worcester City Councillor Alan Amos, who is behind the bid, said the move would not show support for Gaza's Hamas leadership.

Hamas is regarded as a terrorist organisation by Israel, the United States and the European Union.

Israel attacked the Gaza Strip in December in retaliation for rocket attacks. Aid groups said this caused a humanitarian crisis in the region.

Worcester is a picturesque cathedral city of about 90,000 people in the English Midlands.

'Will not help'

Its council said the move to twin with Gaza - which was backed at a meeting on Tuesday - would show solidarity with the territory's 1.5 million inhabitants.

We are linking ourselves with the people of Gaza, not with Hamas
Councillor Alan Amos

But the move has been criticised by Worcester's former Conservative MP, Lord Peter Walker.

He said: "For the people of Worcester, it's bad enough paying their present taxes but the idea that we'll be pouring money from Worcester into Gaza to help their problems and we would be sending lots of councillors over there on consular visits - I don't think that will help the situation.

"I think what we've got to do is support the peacekeeping moves that are going on at the moment."

But this was rejected by Mr Amos as "utter rubbish".

He said: "It won't cost the people of Worcester one penny that we cannot afford".

Worcester cathedral
Worcester is a picturesque city in the English Midlands

He said he had come up with the twinning idea after watching news coverage of the Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip and rejected suggestions that the council would be linking itself with Hamas.

He said: "We are linking ourselves with the people of Gaza, not with Hamas.

"Are Oxfam, Christian Aid, and the International Red Cross terror organisations because they're giving aid to the people of Gaza?

"Let's remember governments come and go - Hamas has come, it will go - there will be another government.

"We are linking with the people, reaching out to these women and children and men who have been through so much."

A final decision will rest with Worcester's Twinning Association.

The city is currently linked with Kleve, in Germany, Le Vesinet, in France, and Worcester, USA.

The twinning movement began following the end of World War II and aimed to forge cultural and trade links between cities in different countries.


A local councillor has backed the initiative

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