Palestine Solidarity Campaign withdraws from UK Gaza event featuring Palestinian activist Leila Khaled

Palestine Solidarity Campaign withdraws from UK Gaza event featuring Palestinian activist Leila Khaled
The Palestine Solidarity Campaign announced it will pull its sponsorship for a fundraising event that was expected to feature Leila Khaled.
4 min read
08 March, 2024
Leila Khaled (C), a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), takes part in a demonstration in Amman 06 April 2002 [Getty]

Leading UK pro-Palestine group the Palestine Solidarity Committee (PSC) has announced its withdrawal from a fundraising event featuring prominent Palestinian activist Leila Khaled.

Khaled was set to make her virtual appearance in the UK as a guest speaker for an upcoming pro-Palestine event in Birmingham this Friday. 

Khaled, 79, a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PLFP), became a household name for her role in hijacking two planes in 1969 and 1970.

The picture of her brandishing a Kalashnikov while wearing a traditional Palestinian keffiyeh became an iconic image of the Palestinian cause.

Advertised as a fundraiser for the West Midlands branch of the PSC, Khaled was scheduled to appear alongside Palestine Action co-founder, Huda Ammori. 

However, following the announcement of Khaled’s appearance, PSC released an update on Tuesday stating that its branch was pulling all links to the event. 

The group also stated that “occupied people have the right to resist, including through the use of armed resistance” but reiterated that the Friday event "did not clearly fall within the framework of the principles outlined".

"PSC has repeatedly stated our firm belief that international law is the framework within which we must judge any use of force. International law makes clear that an occupied people have the right to resist, including through the use of armed resistance. It also makes clear the illegality of the use of force against non combatants," it said in a statement.

"All events supported by any of our nearly 100 affiliated local branches must respect these principles. An event was scheduled to take place later this week, originally with the sponsorship of a local branch in the West Midlands where the framing of the event did not clearly fall within the framework of the principles outlined above.

"On that basis the branch has agreed to withdraw its sponsorship of the event."

The New Arab approached PSC for additional comment but did not receive a response by the time of publication.

The upcoming appearance by Khaled, who has visited the UK multiple times over the years, was met with backlash by pro-Israel groups and supporters.

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street spoke against Khaled’s invitation in an interview with radio station LBC on Tuesday, saying that the police might be called if the event goes ahead.

British newspaper The Times first reported the event on Monday, referring to Khaled as a "terrorist", despite her involvement in peaceful activism in recent years.

The Times also cited a quote by Lord Walney, the UK government's adviser on political violence and disruption, who accused PSC of perpetuating "extremism and intimidation".

In 2001, Khaled stated that the motive behind the 1970 hijacking was to highlight the right of refugees to return and secure the release of Palestinians held in Israeli jails

"We wanted to put the Palestinian question in front of international opinion. All the time we were being dealt with as refugees who only needed human aid. That was unjust," she told British news network BBC

"Nobody had heard our screams and suffering. All we got from the world was more tents and old clothes. After 1967, we were obliged to explain to the world that the Palestinians had a cause."

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Khaled currently resides in Jordan with her family. She frequently makes guest appearances at talks worldwide to advocate for Palestinian resistance and the end of Israeli occupation.

Recently, the PFLP figure spoke out against Israel’s five-month military campaign in the Gaza Strip since 7 October, adding that Palestinian factions will continue to resist militarily until Israel withdraws from Gaza. 

"The future of the Gaza Strip is inseparable from the future of Palestine. The current priority is to halt the ongoing Israeli war, which is perceived as an attempt to eliminate the Palestinian cause," Khaled previously told The New Arab. 

"The PFLP, in partnership with the other Palestinian resisting factions, sees the future of the Gaza Strip as part of the broader struggle for Palestinian national self-determination and the realisation of the right of return for Palestinian refugees to their homeland from which they were expelled," she added. 

 
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