A decision to light up civic buildings across the ABC Borough in the colours of the Israeli flag was taken following a special meeting of Council on Monday evening.
The DUP requested the three main civic buildings (Palace Demesne in Armagh, Banbridge Town Hall and Craigavon Civic Centre) are “lit up in white and blue as soon as is practical for a seven day period as an expression of support and solidarity for Israel following the Hamas terror attacks on Saturday, October 7”.
The group further proposed a Book of Condolence be opened by the Lord Mayor which will “afford an opportunity to people within the wider community to pay tribute to all the innocent victims in the Middle East at this time”.
However, a counter proposal from the Alliance Party’s Joy Ferguson was tabled as her party cannot support “one nation over another”, instead proposing a Book of Condolence “for all innocent victims and to illuminate Council buiildings white signifying our desire for peace in the region and to protect all innocent human life”.
The first proposal was passed on a split of 21-20 – in favour of the two main Unionist parties, with the Lord Mayor casting the decisive vote. Sinn Féin, Alliance and SDLP voted against the DUP proposal.
Sinn Féin, however, say they will challenge the decision.
Speaking during the meeting Sinn Féin Councillor Keith Haughian said: “The attacks by Hamas against Israeli civilians targets, and the Israeli bombardment on Gaza, must stop immediately. There is no justification for the killing of civilians on any side. All acts of violence must end immediately.
“Thousands of men, women and children have been killed so far in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank. There are victims on all sides caused by all sides. Thousands more have been wounded and more than a hundred thousand homes have been left in ruins.
“As the onslaught on Gaza continues the international community must act. We need ceasefires, dialogue and enforcement of international law. We need an end to the violence, an end to the occupation of Palestine, an end to apartheid. A lasting and just peace between Palestinians and Israelis requires this.
“Collective punishment of Palestinian people, a humanitarian crisis, the imminent threat and certainty of worse to come are not defensive actions by Israel. These are crimes, on the world’s watch.
“Rigorous, impartial international leadership is required. To light up buildings blue – blatantly ignoring the suffering of Palestinians would be wrong. We will now move to challenge this one-sided act from Unionism on ABC council.”