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UK government ‘losing’ the argument with ‘attacks’ on democratic rights, says PSC

May 22, 2024 at 8:53 am

Pro-Palestinian activists take part in a march in London, Britain on May, 18 2024, to mark the anniversary of the Nakba, when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forced off their land to make way for the Israeli state [Stringer – Anadolu Agency]

Britain’s Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) has accused the government of losing the democratic and legal arguments as a senior MP and an unelected member of the House of Lords seek to crack down on pro-Palestine protests.

“Lord Walney — former Labour MP John Woodcock and inaccurately described by the government as an ‘Independent Adviser on Political Violence and Disruption’ – has published his much-trailed report calling for a crackdown on democratic protests,” said the PSC in a media statement. “Michael Gove MP has chosen the same day to deliver a speech falsely accusing those who have marched for Palestinian rights of anti-Semitism.”

The campaign group pointed out that this comes just a day after International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor, Karim Khan KC, applied for a series of arrest warrants for war crimes, including one each for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant.

READ: France backs ICC after it seeks arrest warrants for Israel’s Netanyahu, Hamas leaders

The Walney Report, said the PSC, is thoroughly compromised by conflicts of interest. “John Woodcock is a paid lobbyist for weapons manufacturers and fossil fuel companies and a former chair of Labour Friends of Israel. Several of his recommendations are transparent attempts to use the law to further his political disagreement with the recent marches in support of Palestinian rights. Others are extraordinarily draconian, including an effective ban on any protests outside council chambers.”

Using police resources to suppress political protests might serve the interests of Woodcock’s corporate paymasters but would seriously undermine long-held democratic principles, added the PSC. This comes on the very day that Liberty has won a court case to prevent an unlawful attempt by the government to overturn the will of parliament and restrict the right to demonstrate. “Everyone who truly cares about preserving democratic freedoms will utterly reject these proposals. This thoroughly compromised report should be allowed to gather dust in the obscurity it deserves.”

The solidarity movement suggested that, “unlike Michael Gove,” the organisers of the recent demonstrations against Israel’s genocidal assault on Gaza have a proud track-record of challenging all forms of racism. The PSC has been at the forefront of these popular protests.

“Every single one of the fourteen London demonstrations for Palestinian rights that we have organised in the past seven months has been attended by thousands of Jewish people, including an organised and highly visible Jewish bloc and Jewish speakers on every platform,” it pointed out.

At the demonstration in Hyde Park last month, for example, Holocaust survivor Stephen Kapos spoke to a crowd of 200,000,

This was probably the largest audience ever addressed by a Holocaust survivor in Britain.

“Anyone who was genuinely motivated by a desire to combat anti-Semitism, as opposed to cynically shield the state of Israel from legitimate accountability, would celebrate rather than attempt to dismiss these facts.”

READ: Patients, medics evacuate northern Gaza hospital after Israeli shelling

According to Ben Jamal, the Director of the PSC, this amounts to an admission that the apologists for Israel’s “genocidal violence and system of apartheid” have lost the democratic and legal arguments, but continue to attempt to delegitimise Palestinian solidarity.

“They will not succeed,” insisted Jamal. “At a moment when Israel is on trial in the world’s highest court for the crime of genocide and the day after its prime minister — already indicted on corruption and fraud charges in Israel — has been threatened with ICC arrest warrants for war crimes, it is grotesque that these smears continue.” The real issues, he explained, are that the UK government continues to arm Israel, refuses to resume funding to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) and is attempting to protect Israel from legal accountability. “Far from making every effort to stop the genocide in Gaza as required under international law, the UK is complicit, and actors such as Gove and Woodcock attempt to deflect our attention from that fact. They discredit themselves, not the Palestinian solidarity movement.”

Palestine solidarity marches are an example of the people exercising their precious democratic rights.

These latest smears, concluded the PSC, cannot be allowed to distract from the horrors that Israel continues to inflict on the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip. It called on the British government to end its complicity with Israel’s criminal violence by halting the arms trade with the occupation state and give full support to both the ICC and the ongoing work of the International Court of Justice.

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