A MOTION calling for a ceasefire in Gaza descended into a fiery debate in the Bradford Council chamber – with one councillor saying he was “horrified” with the conduct of fellow councillors.

A Labour motion calling for, among other things, a permanent ceasefire in Gaza, went before the Council on Tuesday evening alongside motions about city centre transport and Ilkley Riverside.

The subsequent debate soon became heated, with councillors making personal attacks against each other, members of the public shouting at councillors, and one party threatening to walk out of any future debates on the issue.

It led to one councillor claiming the debate had descended into “political point scoring” that “does nothing for the people of Palestine.”

The motion is the third regarding the Israel-Palestine conflict in October 7, and the first since the local elections in May, when a number of Labour candidates lost their seats to Independents who had made the Gaza issue a key part of their campaign.

The motion, put forward by Council Leader Susan Hinchcliffe, called for the Council to “condemn the indiscriminate attacks on Gaza by the Israeli military” and calling for the Government to comply with any war crime investigations.

It called for a ceasefire, the release of all hostages and to “call on the UK Government to take steps to ensure that arms and military equipment either designed or built in whole or in part in the UK is not used in acts that amount to war crimes under international law.”

Seemingly referring to the recent General Election campaign, where Gaza was a major issue in Bradford constituencies, Deputy Leader Imran Khan (Lab, Bowling and Barkerend) said: “This is not a time for ‘he said, she said’ but ‘we said.’ Only as a united front can we make a difference.

“We should take the strongest possible stance against any politician who uses this catastrophe to stoke division.”

Independent Councillor David Ward (Bolton and Undercliffe) put forward an amended motion that included a number of additions. One of which called for the Council to: “Recognise that there will never be peace in Palestine until there is no longer a settler-colonial, racist, apartheid, terrorist state government oppressing and murdering the Palestinian people.”

Presenting his amendment he referred to Cllr Khan’s comments saying: “What hypocrisy we’ve heard from Labour tonight. What worthless rubbish has come out of your mouth.”

Councillor David WardCouncillor David Ward (Image: T&A)

Referring to labour’s victory in the General Election he said: “How do you think the people in Gaza feel hearing the UK’s new PM was going to be a self confessed Zionist? Can you imagine the despair and abandonment?”

Referring to Labour’s new motion, he sarcastically said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “must be quaking,” adding: “He’s toughed out two of these motions so far. He’s probably discussing it with Starmer right now. ‘Don’t worry’ – Starmer will say. ‘They’re mostly Muslim up in Bradford, I’ll get some local people who can sort them out.'”

He called the new Prime Minister a “bad man” adding: “Netanyahu isn’t listening because Starmer isn’t listening.”

Councillor Muhammed Ali Islam, the Manningham Independent Councillor who came within a few hundred votes of winning the Bradford West seat in the general Election, said: “The labour motion is not strong enough. We urge the PM to take immediate and decisive action.”

Addressing Cllr Ward, Cllr Khan said: “I was hoping not to do this, my speech was about bringing people together, but what an offensive little man you are.

“Here you are, back again, to spout your vile poison.”

Councillor Imran Khan, the Council's deputy leaderCouncillor Imran Khan, the Council's deputy leader

Lord Mayor Beverley Mullaney interrupted to remind Councillors that the Council Constitution requires them to treat each other with respect.

Returning to addressing Cllr Ward, Cllr Khan said: “You talk about Netanyahu quaking in his boots after this motion, maybe, maybe not. But I wonder what impact your words are having on him? He must be writing his letter of resignation as we speak.

“You need to think about the words that come out of that hole in the middle of your face.”

Councillor Mike Pollard (Cons, Baildon) said it was “depressing” to see that the debate had become an “outbreak of strife between the Labour group and the Independents.

He said the motion was “another iteration of a futile motion” and questioned what impact the debate in the Bradford Council chamber would have on affairs in the Middle East.

He added: “We’ve got the message loud and clear, as has, I’m sure, the newly elected Government. If a variation of this motion comes back before the Council in the next six months, the Conservative group is minded to disengage from that part of a future agenda, not only by abstaining on the vote but by also vacating the chamber for the duration of the debate.”

Throughout the debate Councillors often heckled each other, while members of the public who had attended to watch proceedings did the same, despite repeated requests to remain quiet.

At the end of the hour long debate, Councillor Matt Edwards, leader of the Greens in Bradford, said: “As a Bradford Councillor I am horrified by the conduct shown tonight.

“This is meant to be a debate on peace in the Middle East, but tonight we’ve heard more about the ballot boxes than the suffering in Palestine. It is political point scoring when people are suffering and dying.”

He said Councillors from all political colours, and from all across Bradford, had spoken out against the atrocities in Gaza. He added: “The heckling, shouting and baying we’ve seen today does nothing for the people of Palestine.”

After the vote, the Labour motion was approved.