Sacramento City Council voted unanimously to approve a sister-city relationship with Ashkelon, despite opposition from pro-Palestinian organizations.
The Tuesday night vote came after testimony from opponents and supporters, the Sacramento Bee reported.
Some of the 250 spectators crowded into council chambers held Israeli flags; others wore T-shirts reading, “Got human rights? Palestinians don’t,” or carried signs that read that read “I am a Palestinian Sacramentan, therefore I cannot visit Ashkelon on a sister-city delegation.”
The California capital already has a sister-city relationship with nine cities, including what it calls “Bethlehem, Palestine,” and has been discussing adding an Israeli town for several years. The council twinned with Bethlehem in 2009 and at the time agreed to choose a city from Israel as well.
The sister-city program involves cultural, educational and people-to-people exchanges.
Groups that opposed the twinning included No Human Rights, No Sister City; Palestinian Americans for Peace; and the Sacramento Jewish Voice for Peace. Stand With Us and Christians United For Israel circulated letters and petitions in support of the plan.