Page last updated at 16:20 GMT, Friday, 27 February 2009

City MP criticises Gaza twin bid

Worcester and Gaza City
The city council said it wanted to show its support to Gaza's inhabitants

Worcester's bid to twin itself with Gaza have made the city "a laughing stock", its MP has claimed.

The city council said it wanted to twin with the Middle Eastern city as a "humanitarian gesture".

But Mike Foster said the councillors would help the city's inhabitants more by "having a whip round".

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

Mr Foster said he believed people were genuinely concerned about the plight of the people of Gaza.

'So angry'

But the Labour MP said the council's actions had prompted several jokes from colleagues in Westminster.

He added: "For Worcester City Council to spend its time and effort debating whether it should twin with Gaza I just frankly think is a complete and utter waste of time.

"I don't think it will ever happen, I don't think there will be any practical benefits either to the people in Worcester or the people of Gaza.

"They would have been better off having a whip round, a tenner each, three-hundred-and-fifty quid, and that would have been an awful lot of aid through the proper channels.. to give people in Gaza something that they would actually benefit from.

"The people in Worcester are so angry because they see it as a gesture because that's what it is."

'Reaching out'

The twinning idea was that of Councillor Alan Amos, who said he thought of the move after watching TV news reports from Gaza.

He rejected claims it would support the Gaza Strip's Hamas leadership, which is regarded as a terrorist organisation by Israel, the United States and the European Union.

He said it would see the city "reaching out" to Gaza's inhabitants, not Hamas.

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

The city, which is not controlled by a single political party, 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.

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