Members of the delegation confirmed their frank and forthright demand for the immediate release of Sheikh Raed Salah. They informed Mr Gould that Salah’s arrest was tantamount to the arrest of every leader of the Arab community in the country; and that Britain had perpetrated an act that even Israel had not undertaken and that Salah did not represent only himself, but the whole Arab population.
Sheikh Kamal Khatib, vice chairman of the Islamic Movement in Israel who was part of the Arab delegation, said that despite reservations about British policy, it was inappropriate for Britain to have dealt with the Sheikh in this way. He said that the Committee had confirmed that Sheikh Raed did hold very clear positions on Israeli policies against Palestinians which he was dedicated to combatting using all factual, legal and popular means available.
After the meeting, Committee Chairman, Mohammad Zeidan, said that the meeting had been a conduit to convey the united and official Palestinian position to decision-makers in Britain. Other members of the Committee confirmed the opinion that the arrest was baseless, unlawful and political in nature and accused the British government of doing Israel’s dirty work for it.
Dr. Hanan Ashrawi
“We are shocked that the British police would have the audacity to take this action against Sheikh Raed as his political and humanitarian message in defence of the rights of his people who suffer under occupation does not constitute a threat to Britain’s security. He arrived in the country to participate in civilised dialogue with British civil society.”
Ashrawi called on the British authorities not respond to Israeli blackmail and pressure, and urged them to immediately release Sheikh Raed Salah indicating that his unjustified political detention and the use of double standards in his regard harms democratic values, rights and public freedoms. She added;
“It is the responsibility of the countries of the world to pursue and capture Israeli war criminals and refer them to international tribunals.”
Palestinian National Assembly
The Palestinian National Assembly for Jerusalem is the highest representative body for Palestinians in the Holy City, with members from all Palestinian political parties, Muslim and Christian religious denominations and civil society organisations, as well as independent national figures and academics. The Assembly has issued the following statement regarding the detention and threatened deportation of Sheikh Raed Salah by the British government:
“We, the members of the Palestinian National Assembly for Jerusalem, proclaim our dismay and condemnation of the British government’s decision to arrest and detain Sheikh Raed Salah in London.
Such an unjustified and unlawful procedure fails to acknowledge the most basic of human rights and represents a dangerous escalation of the levels of indignity directed at the Palestinian people as a whole; Sheikh Raed Salah is one of the national symbols of our people.
That the British government should yield to pressure from the Zionist lobby by arresting Sheikh Raed Salah is a serious blow to its credibility in respect of Westminster’s relations with the Palestinian people and their cause. In effect, this move by Home Secretary Theresa May makes the British government complicit in the Israeli occupation and its repression of Israel’s own Palestinian citizens as well as those in the occupied Palestinian territories.
It would have been more appropriate for the British government to apprehend Israeli officials accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity, particularly in the Gaza Strip, rather than arresting a Palestinian leader who has been and continues to be a victim of Israeli oppression.
In the name of the people of Jerusalem, we call on the British government, without restriction or condition, to release Sheikh Salah immediately and bring those responsible for his arrest to account. We similarly call on international human rights organisations, primarily Amnesty International, to condemn this latest violation of Palestinian rights and work towards securing the Sheikh’s release.”
Syrian Revolutionary Council in Daraa
“We hold the British Authorities fully responsible for the safety of this icon of resistance and deplore the Arab regime’s silence on disgraceful behaviour such as this. The Arab people and the free people of the world call on them to assume their responsibilities toward the support of worthy causes and the protection of personalities leading the struggle against occupation, injustice and oppression.”
The Syrian Revolutionary Council in Daraa also calls of Syrian intellectuals in the Arab and Islamic world to align themselves with their people and their just causes rather than trading for the occupation or dictatorship.
The Syrian Revolutionary Council in Daraa extends its thanks to the free people of the world who supported Sheikh of al-Aqsa during his ordeal, and assumed an appropriate stance in protection of humanity and against conspiracy against the liberated, the honourable and the defenders of freedom and justice.
Sheikh Raed Salah’s arrest is in line with Israeli policies of racial discrimination
Fatah spokesman, Ousama al Qawasami, has said that the arrest of Sheikh Raed Salah in Britain will give Israel the green light on detention and deportation and is a decision in identification and congruity with Israeli policies of racial discrimination against Palestinians.
“The British decision to detain and deport Sheikh Raed without any justifications, legal or otherwise, sends a negative message out to the Palestinian people.”
“The Palestinian people have suffered injustice on two counts at the hands of the international community; the well-known historic injustice and their bias toward Israeli policies of repression carried out in the full view and knowledge of the whole world. Nevertheless, the international community has failed to take any serious legal action against Israel and its racist policies.”
Qawasami went on to demand that the British government rescind this decision.
Supreme Follow-up Committee of the Arab Community in Israel
“It would have been more fitting for the British government to pursue and punish Israeli war criminals rather that to fall in line with Zionist dictates to pursue and arrest those who defend the Palestinian people and their rights; who expose the immorality and oppression of the Israeli occupation with its savage and repressive practices.”
‘Sheikh Raed is a respectful man among Palestinians here and in the diaspora and his arrest will harm the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian People.
Balad Party MK Haneen Zoabi: “Instead of the British authorities supporting the Palestinians’ just struggle for democracy, freedom and political action, it looks like they support the Israeli policies of political persecution against Arabs in Israel.”
Zoabi continued: “I suggest that the British have to be smarter in their policy relating to the rights of Palestinians in Israel. We, the Arab leadership, need to act more aggressively in the international area, so that the world understands the racist and discriminatory policies and political persecution carried out by the Israeli government against us.”
MK Ahmed Tibi: “baffling and undemocratic behaviour by the British authorities”.
Islamic Movement in Israel: “Ever since Sheikh Salah received the invitation to go to Britain the pro-Israel lobby has gone crazy and done everything in its power to prevent the visit; the lobbyists are pushing for the Zionist narrative to be the only narrative.”
Addressing the pro-Israel lobby directly, the Islamic Movement added, “We will protect our rights and will bring the voice of truth to the world, especially as it relates to the Palestinian people. We won’t be affected by this politically-motivated arrest.”
Jamal Zahalka MK: “Instead of the British government supporting the rights of Arab citizens in Israel, it is cooperating in hurting them.” In fact, continued Zahalka, “Britain is thus collaborating with Israeli oppression. The arrest is a blow to the Arab public in Israel, which regards Sheikh Raed Salah as one of its leaders.”
I was deeply disturbed to learn Sheikh Raed Salah is under threat of deportation on grounds that this action would be “conducive to the public good” (Inquiry after banned Palestinian enters UK, 30 June). On the contrary, it would be very harmful to the public good, at least if the public good is construed as encouraging free and open discussion of issues of great significance. Sheikh Salah, former mayor of the most important Arab town in Israel, Umm al Fahm, has played a very important role as a representative of the Arab community, domestically and internationally. He has been a respected voice advocating rights and justice, a voice that most definitely should be heard in the west. I trust that this decision of the government will be rescinded, that he will be released from detention without delay, and that he will be able to continue with his talks and discussions in Britain.
How interesting that the same Mike Freer MP who demanded the banning of Sheikh Raed Salah from Britain should also have, in effect, supported the entry of suspected Israeli war criminals into this country. As my constituency MP, he brusquely rejected my appeal in November 2010 to vote against the government’s proposed change to the law of universal jurisdiction, which would make it easier for visiting Israelis accused of alleged war crimes to evade arrest here. By contrast, Sheikh Raed has committed no crime in Britain or elsewhere. But perhaps his criticism of Israel’s policies against his fellow Palestinians is the real crime for Freer and other supporters of Israel.
Archbishop of Sebastia
“The action taken against Sheikh Salah is unjust and we completely and totally denounce and reject it.”
“The Sheikh fulfils his religious and national role and serves the cause of his people; he defends Jerusalem and its sanctities which is the duty of every Palestinian and is a position for which Sheikh Raed deserves commendation and thanks, not to be treated with such harshness or targeted in this manner.”
He demanded that the British authorities release Sheikh Raed and enable him to continue his visit of Britain. Bishop Hanna said,
“The targeting of Sheikh Raed is a pitiful attempt to put pressure on national figures and the attainment of their roles and prestige.”