LONDON, July 31 (UPI) -- Lutfur Rahman, the mayor of Tower Hamlets in east London, raised the Palestinian flag over the town hall on Wednesday. It was removed Thursday morning.
Rahman, an independent, explained in a statement that he hung the flag to "raise the urgent need for humanitarian aid in Gaza."
"Conflicts in other parts of the world can have an impact locally and in Tower Hamlets.
"Some have suggested that raising the Palestinian flag is to take sides, however, my decision was in solidarity with civilian Palestinian victims.
"Sometimes politicians need to take a stand in the face of injustice and needless suffering and that is what I am doing."
Conservative leader Peter Golds disputed Rahman's assertion that the full town council had supported the flag raising. "The full council wasn't behind the decision because my group abstained on it." He also questioned Rahman's commentary on foreign affairs: "What on earth is the leader of a local authority [doing], starting to interfere in foreign affairs? What's his experience?"
Britain's position concerning the Israeli-Hamas conflict, as explained by Prime Minister David Cameron in the House of Commons on July 21, is that Israel maintains the right to defend itself from attack. "But," he added, "I share the grave concern of many in the international community about the heavy toll of civilian casualties."
The U.S. and United Nations have questioned the proportionality of Israel's airstrikes.