A Greens-led council in Sydney’s inner west is expected to drop elements of its controversial plan to boycott Israel.


Marrickville Council will meet to vote on the proposed boycott, which has attracted criticism from across the political spectrum amid estimates it would cost local ratepayers $3.5 million if it went ahead.

Mayor Fiona Byrne, who leads the controlling Greens team on the council, has said she will propose rescinding part of the original motion but stands by the principle of the boycott.

The area’s federal MP, Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese, told reporters in Canberra on Monday the Greens’ councillors had divided what was a “harmonious” community.

“It’s time, when the council meets tomorrow night, to put aside this division and to say that the council should prioritise getting back to basics – not be an alternative government for Australia,” he said.

“The Greens party needs to understand that what they have done is be obsessed with playing political games at the expense of the local community.”

NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell, in a letter to Ms Byrne, has already indicated he will sack the council if it doesn’t rescind the policy.

Mr O’Farrell has said the council should return to concentrating on delivering services in the areas in its care, a view shared by the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies.

The board was unavailable for comment on Monday due to the festival of Passover, but chief executive Vic Alhadeff has previously said the boycott was “ill-conceived from the outset”.

“We would describe the reversal of the policy as a welcome victory for commonsense,” he said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Greens leader Senator Bob Brown restated that such a ban would not be federal policy for the party he leads.

The proposed boycott was aimed at all products directly or indirectly associated with Israel.