East Herts Labour Group statement: Green Party Councillor Martin Butcher’s comments on Israel
The East Herts District Council Labour Group has issued a statement on comments made on social media by Green Party Councillor Martin Butcher with regards to Israel. The statement has been made on behalf of all five members of the Labour Group and reads as follows:
“We are all shocked and appalled by recent events in Israel. We unequivocally utterly condemn the senseless murder of men, women and children – including British citizens – in cold blood by the terrorists of Hamas. The Labour Party believes in a two-state solution to resolve this long-running conflict: a secure Palestinian state alongside a safe Israel. The recent attacks by Hamas do nothing for Palestinians. We are also deeply concerned for the people trapped in Gaza, appalled at the ongoing loss of life, and saddened by the destruction of hope by war.
Labour councillors on East Herts District Council were therefore dismayed by recent tweets and retweets on this conflict by Councillor Martin Butcher. As well as being Deputy Mayor of Ware Town Council, Councillor Butcher is Chair of EHDC. In this latter role he often represents East Herts Council at community events.
In recent days on social media Councillor Butcher has called upon his own party (the Green Party of England and Wales) to condemn “Israeli murders of civilians”, calling the Party’s approach “one-sided” and “unacceptable”. He has also retweeted a post describing the Hamas attack as “a bit wild”, and has even criticised President Zelensky of Ukraine for condemning the attacks.
These comments do not appear in a vacuum. Councillor Butcher has consistently used his social media accounts to criticise Israel and justify attacks on its citizens:
On 27th January 2023 he justified an attack in Jerusalem in which eight Israelis were murdered by saying “When you occupy other people’s land, ethnically cleanse it and impose apartheid rule, people resist. That’s natural.”
On 4th March 2023 he claimed that from Israel’s foundation “genocidal violence has been at the core of its (Israel’s) identity.”
On 5th March 2023, he stated on Twitter “There is no two-state solution; the settler colonialist killers have destroyed that option.”
In April 2023 three English women from the same family - Lucy Dee and her daughters Maia (20) and Rina (15) - were murdered in the West Bank. Councillor Butcher tweeted in response “Sadly if you commit a war crime to live illegally in someone else’s occupied land, then this sort of thing happens… these women had no need nor right to be where they were.”
On 13th May 2023 he retweeted “Death to Israel.”
On 14th May 2023 he marked the anniversary of the foundation of Israel by tweeting “Congratulations on the birth of your settler colonialist nightmare, born of terrorism, murder and ethnic cleansing.”
Councillor Butcher is clearly in breach of East Herts Council’s code of conduct for councillors, in that he has brought both his role and the council into disrepute. He should consider his position both as Chair of EHDC and as a councillor, and resign.
We will be submitting a complaint to the Monitoring Officer about his conduct in the next few days. We call upon the leaders of the joint administration to make a clear statement on this issue as soon as possible.”