By David Whelan

A NORTH Belfast pastor who called for the arrest of George Galloway over “anti-Israeli” comments he made in England has said that he is deeply concerned that a public appearance by the MP could spark further flag violence in Belfast.

Pastor Jack McKee, from the New Life City Church in the Shankill, has called on the PSNI to arrest Galloway when he appears at an event scheduled to take place at the Ulster Hall this weekend (August 23).

Speaking to the North Belfast News, Pastor McKee called Galloway a “bigot” and a “hypocrite” and accused him of bringing another generation of hatred to Belfast.

A call by the Respect MP for the people of Bradford to reject all Israeli goods, services, academics and tourists brought a mixture of condemnation and support.

“There are lots of people that are doing incredible good work here in Belfast in terms of bridging the divide and trying to break down the walls and the barriers of sectarianism and hatred,” said Pastor McKee “We know how the whole Palestinian-Israeli thing here affects our communities in Belfast and then to hear George Galloway stirring things up in Bradford, goodness knows what he has in his heart to say.

“As far as I’m concerned, there is enough hatred in Belfast to do us for another generation without him giving us a whole other generation on his own.”

Pastor McKee said that he did not personally believe that Israel was purposely attacking civilians but he admitted that Israel was capable of being more surgical in their attacks on Gaza.

“When it comes to Galloway’s support of Palestine, and I support certain demands and rights that the Palestinians have, but to come across as being as bigoted as he has done, I think doesn’t help in our situation in Belfast,” he said.

“I can’t see him coming to Belfast and not pandering to the audience and not pandering to one side of the community here and not showing his anti-Israeli stance and his pro-Palestinian, pro-Hamas stance.”

Asked about whether it was right people in Belfast were aligning themselves with a conflict in the Middle East, Pastor McKee said relationships built up over 30 or 40 years of history were playing out on the streets here.

“I think there are very strong feelings in Belfast against him and I would be concerned that on the night you could get an anti- and a pro-George Galloway protests meeting together outside the Ulster Hall.”

Belfast City Council this week said it was taking legal advice about a DUP call for the Galloway event at the Ulster Hall to be cancelled.

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