UK minister threatens to cancel Palestine event over 'Hamas ties'

UK minister threatens to cancel Palestine event over 'Hamas ties'
The fate of one of Europe's biggest Palestine events hangs in the balance after a UK government department intervened over alleged links between its organisers and Hamas.
2 min read
26 June, 2017
Sajid Javid expressed his opposition to BDS in FEbruary [AFP]

A UK government minister has threatened to cancel one of Europe's biggest Palestinian events over alleged links to Hamas.

This follows a letter sent by UK communities secretary Sajid Javid, who told the event's organisers that "concerns that your organisation and those connected with it have expressed public support for a proscribed organisation, namely Hamas, and that you have supported events at which Hamas and Hizballah – also proscribed – have been praised".

The organisers of Palestine Expo - an event which will include political discussions, food stalls, comedy events and more - say that Javid's Department for Communities and Local Government is unlawfully interfering in the event following hearsay spread by pro-Israel organisations.

With less than a fortnight to go until the event, the DCLG is yet to issue a decision on whether Palestine Expo will go ahead. A decision was meant to be made on Friday, however the department indicated that because of the Grenfell Tower fire, Javid was too busy to look into the matter.

"They have failed to provide any satisfactory reason as to why they have chosen to cancel an event which seeks to celebrate Palestinian culture and heritage," said Ismail Patel, founder of the Friends of al-Aqsa group which is behind Palestine Expo.

"Despite the threat from DCLG, we will make further efforts to hold Palestine Expo and will seek a judicial review of this unfair and unjust decision," he added.

Earlier this year, Javid announced his intention to make boycott and divestment initiatives against Israel by local authorities illegal unless they are consistent with central government policy.

His announcement in February was seen as echoing the sentiment of many Conservative Party politicians who were looking to ingratiate themselves with the pro-Israel lobby at the time.

According to the Palestine Expo's organisers, since the event's scheduling on the weekend of June 8-9 was put into doubt, only 300 tickets have been sold. Prior to this, 1,800 had been sold in the first few days after the event was announced.

Palestinian Expo, which will be held at the QE2 centre in London, is expected to attract around 10,000 people.