GLASGOW City Council is standing by a controversial decision to fly the Palestinian flag in solidarity with those affected by the Gaza conflict.
The flag was raised at the city chambers on George Square today despite opposition from some members of the Jewish and political community.
Glasgow is the second local authority in Scotland to fly the flag after West Dunbartonshire made the gesture last week.
Fife Council plans to follow suit in the coming days.
Nearly 1,900 Palestinians and 67 Israelis have been killed since fighting between Israel and Hamas began in early July.
The Disasters Emergency Committee said the violence has led to the entire population of Gaza being left without adequate access to medical care and about 1.4 million people with no or very limited access to water and sanitation.
Hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to flee their homes and 65,000 people have seen them destroyed or damaged beyond repair.
Glasgow Lord Provost Sadie Docherty wrote to Bethlehem mayor Vera Baboun on Wednesday, stating the city’s support.
She said: “In solidarity with Bethlehem and Palestine, Glasgow City Council will raise the Palestinian flag on Friday August 8.
“We hope that peace can be found to ensure the human rights for the people of Palestine.
“Please be assured that our thoughts are with you and we are hopeful that an immediate, enduring and peaceful resolution can be found to this conflict.”
Fife Council, meanwhile, plans to fly a Palestinian flag at its Glenrothes headquarters for a week.
Council leader David Ross said there was a “general consensus” that the gesture should be made to raise awareness of the suffering of the people in Gaza.
“This action is not in support of any specific organisation but simply in solidarity with the people of Gaza to show our concern for their suffering and to call for a lasting ceasefire,” he said.
Conservative councillor David Meikle said Glasgow’s decision to fly the flag was taken without consulting council members and would do nothing to stop suffering on both sides of the conflict.
Instead, he said it could cause division in Glasgow communities.
Mr Meikle said: “I failed to read in the letter where the Lord Provost mentions the plight of the Christian population in Bethlehem who are leaving owing to harassment.
“I also failed to see in the letter any condemnation of the Hamas terrorists who have declared war on Israel and their use of civilians as human shields to protect its forces.
“I fully sympathise with the plight of the innocent Gaza citizens caught up in this but I also condemn the continued attacks on Israel from terrorists.
“I, therefore, would support Glasgow City Council also raising the Israel flag to show that we are not political but in sympathy with all who suffer in the Middle East.”
A statement from the Israeli embassy in London said: “Whilst the Palestinian flag flies over Glasgow, the flag over Gaza is the green Hamas flag, which expresses the one-sided ideology of blind hatred, which the group shares with Al-Qaeda, Boko-Haram, ISIS and other radical Islamist entities around the world.”
Paul Morron, president of the Glasgow Jewish Representative Council, said: “I think this is gesture politics.
“I think it will not alleviate the suffering of one person in the Middle East conflict and I don’t think it will bring peace closer by a single minute.”
Mr Morron said the move instead has the potential to cause division in Scotland, with most people interpreting the flying of a Palestinian flag as a political statement.
There was support for Glasgow from the group Scottish Jews for a Just Peace.
In a statement on behalf of the group, Marion Hersh said: “We are particularly distressed by the Israeli bombardment of Gaza, leading to the deaths of nearly two thousand Palestinians.
“We support Glasgow City Council in flying the Palestinian flag and consider it a welcome gesture of solidarity and support.”