A proposal for the United States' town of Boulder, Colorado to become an official sister-city with the West Bank city of Nablus has caused an uproar among Boulder's residents, requiring the city council to intervene.
The opponents of the proposal, which requires city council approval to be applied, claim that Nablus represents anti-Israel sentiments and that supporting it would mean that Boulder is taking sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Boulder's council recently set up a citizen panel and hired a moderator to settle the heated debate between supporting and opposing sides, hoping to reach a decision.
A sister city partnership is a formal agreement between two cities in different regions of the world meant to promote either commercial interests or cross-cultural understanding.
The purpose of the Boulder-Nablus proposal is to combat misunderstandings about Palestine and its people based on biased representations of Palestinians in U.S. media, President of the "Boulder-Nablus Sister City Project" Essrea Cherin told AP .
“We were really kind of taken aback to find that they did not shift their views very much,” said Cherin, who insists the proposal is about fostering international understanding not promoting a political agenda.
This is not the first time that the proposal has wrecked havoc in Boulder. It has been dragging on for years in the city council while facing consistent opposition and rejection.
In the council's last meeting on the issue prior to this week, the opponents claimed that Nablus is a "hotbed of terrorism and anti-Semitic sentiment that Boulder ought to steer clear of, or, at the very least, not attach its name to via an official Sister City partnership," according to The Boulder Weekly .
Nablus is one of the liveliest cities in Palestine, it is a crucial commercial and cultural center for Palestine. The city, which is governed by the Palestinian National Authority, is home to Al-Najah National University, one of the largest Palestinian higher education institutions, as well as the Palestinian stock-exchange.