A PETITION calling for Edinburgh to be twinned with Gaza City has been pulled from the agenda of a committee hours before it was due to go ahead so that legal advice can be taken.

The city council’s policy and sustainability committee were due to discuss the pairing with the Palestinian city on Tuesday, but attendees were told that the motion was withdrawn.

It is understood the move followed approaches from the organisation UK Lawyers for Israel, followed by Israeli authorities.

READ MORE: Boris Johnson told to quit as police issue partygate fines

At the opening of the meeting Jamie Macrae, Committee Officer at The City of Edinburgh Council, said that the motion was withdrawn to “allow officers to give full consideration to legal matters raised since the publication of the agenda”.

The motion states that Edinburgh could play its part in acknowledging “Britain’s historical responsibilities in the Holy Land” through twinning with Gaza and offer Palestine "some recompense".

Edinburgh is where Arthur Balfour, a former British foreign secretary who made the Balfour declaration in 1917 in support of the “establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people”, went to university.

The petition states: “For Edinburgh Council to take this step to help the refugees of Gaza City could be the beginning of the UK beginning to take responsibility for the situation it helped create in the Middle East. The majority of Palestinians living in Gaza City are refugees who had to leave their homes when Israel was established.”

The National:

The petition was due to be heard at a virtual Edinburgh council committee on Tuesday

It later added: “By twinning, the City of Edinburgh can show the people of Gaza City they are not alone, and that Scottish people see their pain and care for their future wellbeing.”

Pete Gregson, who submitted the petition, told the Edinburgh Evening News (EEN) that he had been told of the withdrawal at 5pm on Monday, 17 hours before the meeting was due to take place.

READ MORE: P&O boss says the company 'did nothing illegal' in extraordinary U-turn

Gregson told the EEN: “The Israeli intervention was prompted by the UK Lawyers for Israel threat of last Thursday which warned councillors that if they went ahead and twinned, they could be facing 14 years in prison.

“Israel is undermining our democracy with threats, stopping friendly relations between cities.”

Gregson also stated that Hamas, an Islamist militant group, are not in control of Gaza city, adding that most politicians in the Strip are elected as individuals and not party affiliation, and most decisions are made at municipality level.

The Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip has been in place since June 2007.

The National:

Gaza has been hit with multiple air strikes from Israel, including civilian buildings

A source told The National: “I am not entirely sure what this says about our democratic process and right to open debate.

“Let's hope that eventually democracy prevails and the issue can be discussed at a future meeting.”

A council spokesperson said: “The report to consider the petition calling for Edinburgh to be twinned with Gaza City has been withdrawn from the agenda so legal advice can be taken.”

Gaza City, with a population of 590,481, is the largest city in the state of Palestine. Edinburgh city has a similar population size of 548,206.

Edinburgh is twinned with multiple cities including Munich, Xi’an, Vancouver and Nice, whilst Gaza is twinned with Tel Aviv, Dunkirk, Turin and Barcelona, among others.

We previously told how Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf spoke out after Israel carried out multiple air strikes on Gaza in May 2021.