UK gov looks to ban pro-Palestine protest groups, including Palestine Action, 'like terror groups'

UK gov looks to ban pro-Palestine protest groups, including Palestine Action, 'like terror groups'
The UK government could adopt recommendations that would see "extreme protest groups", including Palestine Action, treated like terror groups.
2 min read
12 May, 2024
Woodcock's recommendation comes amid a wider attempt by the UK government to crack down on pro-Palestine activism [Getty]

Pro-Palestine groups in the UK, including the prominent Palestine Action, may soon find themselves branded like terror groups under a proposal by the British government's adviser on political violence.

The BBC reported on Sunday that excerpts of a report it had seen recommended that the government legislate a new category for designating and banning "extreme protest groups".

The report was compiled by former Labour MP and now non-affiliated peer John Woodcock, who sits in the House of Lords as Lord Walney.

Woodcock defines the new category as comprising groups that employ "criminal tactics" to achieve their aims.

The report recommends that the government implement sanctions on these groups to restrict their right to assemble and their ability to raise funds.

“Militant groups like Palestine Action and Just Stop Oil are using criminal tactics to create mayhem and hold the public and workers to ransom without fear of consequence,” Woodcock stated, as reported by the BBC.

“Banning terror groups has made it harder for their activists to plan crimes - that approach should be extended to extreme protest groups too,” he added.

Founded in 2020, Palestine Action is known for its use of direct action to shut down and disrupt primarily UK and European-based corporations that sell arms to Israel.

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In March, the group targeted the engineering materials firm Smiths Metals, spraying red paint on and vandalising its headquarters in Bedfordshire because it supplies components for F-35 fighter jets, which are used in Israel's indiscriminate bombardment of Gaza.

In response to the potential ban, Palestine Action claimed that its actions align with the majority of the British public who support an arms embargo between the UK and Israel, stating that the proposals would not deter their campaign, according to the BBC.

The Home Office said that the recommendations in Woodcock’s report will be considered by ministers.

Woodcock’s report comes amid wider moves by Conservative UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to crack down on pro-Palestine activism. This includes a controversial bill that would ban public bodies from boycotting Israel, despite its numerous human rights violations and potential war crimes.

Sunak has also sought to ban MPs, other elected officials and civil servants from engaging with pro-Palestine groups.