A MOTION calling for a ceasefire in the Israeli/Gaza conflict has been narrowly passed by Scottish Borders Council – despite a claim it was “pontificating on foreign affairs”.

At the meeting of the full council last week, members considered a motion submitted by councillor Viv Thomson, an SNP representative for Tweeddale West.

It called for agreement that council leader Euan Jardine writes to the UK Government calling for “urgent action to try and implement a ceasefire in the current Israeli/Gaza conflict”.

It added: “There is no doubt that the assault on the Kibbutz Kfar Aza compound by Hamas on October 7 was a heinous crime, and one that they must be held accountable for. Whilst supporting the right of any country to defend itself, the level of force being used by the Israeli Government has been criticised by the international community. There have so far been over 10,500 innocent victims reportedly killed in the past month, with approximately 40 known Hamas members deaths recorded. 

“Those who have been driven from their homes are now living precariously. 

“They urgently require access to water, food and medical care and the only way to ensure this reaches them is by way of a ceasefire.”

In response, councillor Simon Mountford labelled the motion “naive” and “gesture politics”.

He said: “None of us can watch sight of such suffering and be unmoved. However, in common with many other councillors, I have strong reservations about the council pontificating on foreign affairs, which are way outwith our remit and over which we have absolutely no influence.

“This becomes just gesture politics, I’m afraid.

“I also feel the motion is naïve as it fails to recognise the realities of the situation. It fails to mention the 1,200 Israelis who were butchered or the 240 taken hostage. It ignores the scores of young people slaughtered and raped during the raids.”

The Conservative representative for Kelso & District submitted an amendment to the motion condemning the “heinous atrocities committed by Hamas on October 7” and stating: “The council regrets the suffering inflicted on the civilian population of Gaza as the result of the consequent war and considers ways in which it can support Borders organisations and individuals seeking to provide humanitarian aid.”

The amendment also called on the leader of the council to write to the UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak urging him to “do all he can do to expedite the release of all the hostages as a necessary first step to achieving a halt to hostilities”.

The original motion was passed by 14 votes to 13 – with four abstentions.