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UK: Cambridge becomes first city council to call for ceasefire and end to arms sales to Israel

Cambridge City Council, with a Labour majority, is the first council to have passed a motion calling for an end to arms sales to Israel
The river Cam in Cambridge, eastern England (AFP)
The river Cam in Cambridge, eastern England (AFP)

Cambridge’s city council, which has a Labour majority, has become the first in the UK to pass a motion calling for a ceasefire in Gaza and an end to arming Israel. 

It emerged on Friday that Cambridge City Council unanimously passed a motion on Thursday calling on the government to press for a ceasefire in Gaza and Israel, revoke licences for arms exports to Israel, and suspend arms sales to Israel.

The council also promised to investigate the implications of stopping banking with Barclays, which has well-documented investments in companies involved in supplying arms and military technology to Israel.

No other city councils in the UK have passed comparable motions.

Labour councillor Alice Gilderdale said the city council had waited “too long” in bringing a motion on the conflict and said they could not “continue to watch the horrors in Gaza without speaking out”, according to Cambridgeshire Live.

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A majority of the city’s councillors are members of the Labour Party.

Labour's shadow foreign secretary, David Lammy, called for a pause in arms sales to Israel for the first time on 12 May.

Cambridge Stop The War, a coalition of anti-war activists in the city, issued a statement saying: “This Victory has only been possible because of the constant campaigning by Palestine activists in Cambridge.

We must stay vigilant and make sure they follow through with their pledge to divest from Barclays.”

Cambridge has also seen significant student activism in the last few months.

On 6 May around 100 students gathered on the lawn outside King's College, one of the University of Cambridge's constituent colleges. They erected tents and demanded the university commit to divesting from companies involved in Israel's war on Gaza. 

Negotiations between the university and protesters began this week, MEE understands.

MEE revealed on 12 May that according to the Trinity College Student Union, the college council at Trinity, Cambridge's wealthiest college, voted to divest from all arms companies.

The student union said the college decided not to announce the move publicly after an activist defaced a portrait of Lord Arthur Balfour inside Trinity.

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