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Cambridge becomes first city council in UK to call for end to arms sales to Israel

Pro-Palestine supporters demonstrate in front of Cambridge City Hall before their scheduled City Council meeting. (File photo)

The Cambridge City Council has become the first council in the United Kingdom to call for an immediate ceasefire in the war-torn Gaza Strip and an end to the current arms sales to Israel.

Run by a Labour majority, the local authority for the city of Cambridge unanimously passed a motion calling for a ceasefire in the besieged Palestinian enclave and an end to further arming of Israel. 

According to the motion, the Cambridge City Council called on the British government to pressure Tel Aviv for a truce in Gaza, to revoke licenses for arms exports to Israel, and suspend arms sales to the occupying regime.

The council also promised to launch an investigation into the implications of stopping banking with Barclays, which has well-documented investments in companies involved in arming Israel with weapons and military technology.

British multinational Barclays Bank holds more than £1 billion ($1.2 billion) in shares in firms arming the Israeli military.

To date, no other city council across the UK has passed a similar motion.

Labour councilor Alice Gilderdale said the Cambridge City Council has waited “too long” in bringing a motion on the war in Gaza, adding they cannot “continue to watch the horrors in Gaza without speaking out.”

On May 12, Labour’s shadow foreign secretary, David Lammy, called for a halt in arms shipments to the Tel Aviv regime for the first time.

A coalition of anti-war activists in Cambridge – known as “Cambridge Stop The War” – stressed that “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,” it further said.

Back in February, it was revealed that the University of Cambridge’s wealthiest college – the Trinity College – has invested millions of dollars in American, British and Japanese firms that are directly involved in Israel’s ongoing genocidal war on Gaza.

On May 6, some 100 students erected tents in protest on the lawn outside King’s College, one of the University of Cambridge’s constituent colleges, demanding the university commit to divest from firms involved in Israel’s war on Gaza. 

Israel has killed more than 35,800 people, mostly women and children, and injured over 80,200 others in Gaza since October 7, when it launched a brutal war in the Palestinian coastal sliver after the resistance movement Hamas carried out Operation Al-Aqsa Storm against the occupying entity.

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