West Dunbartonshire Council has joined the nationwide appeal for an immediate and permanent ceasefire in the Israel and Gaza war. 

A motion was brought before a requisitioned full council meeting on Wednesday evening which “unequivocally condemned” Hamas’s attacks against Israeli citizens from October. 

It also called for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages and called on the International Criminal Court to investigate the conduct of all parties involved in the conflict. 

But, there was some debate in the council chamber as to whether or not this was an issue the local authority should be getting involved in. 

Independent councillor Craig Edward said: “I put on record my deepest sympathy with the Israeli and Palestinian people as we watch horrific scenes unfold via our television screens each day.

“But I do not believe it was necessary or appropriate for a requisitioned council meeting to be called. As a councillor, I understand my duties to represent my constituents to the best of my ability on local issues, concerns and suggestions.

“This includes areas such as council tax, council housing, care services, education, economic development, attracting funding and investment, decision making on budgets, grass cutting, street light issues, anti-social behaviour and many more areas.

“To my knowledge, foreign affairs 3500 miles away from this council chamber this evening are not part of the remit for a councillor – it is an issue reserved for the foreign commonwealth office at UK Government level.

“We should all welcome the announcement made last week by the UK prime minister who announced new aid packages to provide food, water, healthcare and shelter for those affected by this humanitarian crisis.

“The UK is now one of the biggest humanitarian donors to this crisis.

“Our 89,000 constituents across West Dunbartonshire face a cost of living crisis, rise in fuel costs and pitiful pay rises barely covering the rise of inflation. 

“My mailbox has been filled with genuine bemusement that the council can muster up a quick meeting to discuss an issue thousands of miles away. Not to cast any doubt on the diplomatic capabilities of this meeting but there is doubt that Benjamin Netanyahu or Hamas are going to sit down on the back of this meeting, on the back of this council having an opinion war.”   

Other councillors did not agree with the comments and continued to talk positively about the motion which reaffirmed West Dunbartonshire’s commitment to lasting peace and two state solution with the end of illegal occupation, siege and settlements.

Councillor Lauren Oxley said: “While councillor Edwards might not have any constituents contact him about the conflict in Israel and Gaza, I have, and their concerns are genuine.

“The events across Israel and Gaza have been heartbreaking. I fully and unequivocally condemn the atrocities by Hamas on October 7 and I desperately hope for the release of the innocent hostages.

“The death toll will continue to rise if there is not an immediate ceasefire. I hope that West Dunbartonshire Council can do the right thing and join the international call for an immediate and permanent ceasefire.”

Council leader, Martin Rooney, added: “I recognise this is a very emotive issue. This motion reflects the recently agreed Scottish Parliament position that was submitted before the temporary ceasefire came into force.

“What might seem unachievable at this time, I am sure everyone in this room shares my hope that efforts to extend a temporary ceasefire will be successful.”

The council will now call on the Chief Executive to write to the UK Government expressing the concerns and enclose a copy of the motion.