The largest Palestine event in Europe went ahead this weekend despite a smear campaign and attempts by pro-Israel groups to have it cancelled. Organised by the UK non-profit organisation Friends of Al-Aqsa, Palestine Expo spanned two days and was held over five floors in the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in Westminster, overlooking the Houses of Parliament, on 8-9 July.
With a host of renowned speakers including academics and activists, a souq and a number of interactive zones showcasing various art exhibitions and cultural programmes, the event attracted more than 15,000 visitors. One stall was a mock UN tent, standing as a reminder of the plight of Palestinian refugees.
The timing of the event comes as Palestinians mark 100 years since the Balfour Declaration, 50 years since the occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and 10 years since the siege on Gaza.
“It is the combination of these tragic episodes for the Palestinians that we are marking. This is the time to unite and be a part of the movement to end their suffering,” a statement on the event’s website reads.
Until last week, it was unclear whether the event would go ahead as the UK Government considered complaints by pro-Israel groups. Officials eventually gave the organisers the green light following threats of legal action.
A handful of Israeli demonstrators gathered at the entrance to the event, flaunting an Israeli flag and arguing with ticket holders.
— Middle East Monitor (@MiddleEastMnt) July 8, 2017