Pro-Palestine groups to protest Netanyahu's London visit as Israel-UK deal 'entrenches apartheid'

Pro-Palestine groups to protest Netanyahu's London visit as Israel-UK deal 'entrenches apartheid'
Pro-Palestinian and Israeli groups are planning to protest in London on Friday against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his visit to the UK.
3 min read
23 March, 2023
Netanyahu is expected to travel to the UK on Thursday, and meet Sunak on Friday [Getty]

Pro-Palestinian and anti-occupation Jewish groups will protest on Friday against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to London, where he is expected to meet his British counterpart Rishi Sunak.

Netanyahu will arrive in the UK on Thursday, following a "landmark agreement" between the two countries, to deepen technological, economic, and military ties, the UK Foreign Ministry has said.

The visit comes amid a wave of Israeli violence in the occupied West Bank, with 89 Palestinians killed this year alone and the continued racist incitement by extreme-right members of Netanyahu's government.

"This Friday, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu is in London to meet UK government officials. Netanyahu’s government maintains a brutal apartheid system over the Palestinian people... Palestinians need our solidarity now more than ever," the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign tweeted.

The pro-Palestinian group, alongside others including Friends of Aqsa, will be leading the demonstration opposite London’s Downing Street between 10am and 12pm.

Na'amod, a movement of 'British Jews against occupation', also called for protests against Netanyahu on Friday at 9am and 4pm at Montgomery Statue, opposite 10 Downing Street.

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"No red carpet for occupation and apartheid," the group wrote.

Israeli activists will also protest the PM’s controversial judicial overhaul, which they label a "threat to democracy".

Israeli group 'Saving Israeli Democracy' said they will organise a protest in London "in solidarity" with mass demonstrations in Israel, against "the new extremist government".

Netanyahu's proposed changes to the Israeli judiciary could give his government greater sway in selecting judges and limit the power of the Supreme Court to strike down legislation.

The Israeli group's protest will begin at 8am at Richmond Terrace, opposite Downing Street, before making its way to Speakers Corner at 10am, where the pro-Palestine protest will begin.

Netanyahu’s expected visit comes after British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly and Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen met in London on Tuesday to sign a roadmap for "flourishing" Israel-UK bilateral relations.

Programmes announced in the roadmap include around ÂŁ20 million of joint funding commitments on technology and innovation, according to the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development office.

The foreign ministers reportedly agreed on the importance of upholding the historic status quo of the holy sites in Jerusalem, "noting the need to de-escalate tensions in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories".

The Palestinian Solidarity Campaign Chair Kamel Hawwash slammed the UK-Israel agreement as "appalling", saying it made "no reference to the Netanyahu Government’s intensification of the violation of [Palestinian] rights and Israel’s claim to the whole of historic Palestine in defiance of international law".

"In this moment, to promise to deepen relations with Israel rather than holding it accountable gives Netanyahu a green light to continue entrenching Israeli apartheid policies. It also further undermines the UK Government’s commitment to upholding international law," Hawwash said. 

Extreme-right Israeli Finance Minister Belazel Smotrich denied the existence of Palestinians during an inflammatory speech in Paris this week and has also called for "wiping out" the Palestinian town of Hawara.