Protesters greeted Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu as he made a surprise visit to Boris Johnson in London on Thursday.
Netanyahu arrived in Downing Street to shore up Johnson’s support for Israel’s warmongering against Iran—and to bolster his image ahead of elections this month.
But more than 100 people joined a last-minute protest against him, organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC).
One protester, Jade, told Socialist Worker, “It’s important that we protest to show we’re not happy that a war criminal is coming to the country. I want to make sure I’m on the right side of history.
“The Israeli state is racist. It’s building illegal settlements in the West Bank, it’s testing its weapons on Palestinians in Gaza.”
PSC director Ben Jamal said the protest was a message to Netanyahu.
“Even when you come at a few hours’ notice, there will still be people on the streets to protest against your visit.
“No welcome to the man who denies Palestinians their inalienable right to a capital in Jerusalem. No welcome to the man who expands settlements and recently announced plans to annex 60 percent of the West Bank.
Speaking ahead of the meeting, Netanyahu linked support for Israel with opposition to antisemitism.
He told Johnson, “I want to say that you've been a great friend of the Jewish people and Israel. I applaud your staunch stance against antisemitism and your support for Israel's security.”
Protesters responded that Johnson and Netanyahu have both praised the antisemitic Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban—and are both nasty proponents of Islamophobia.
Glyn Secker of Jews for Justice in Palestine said, “Johnson represents the deep racism and Islamophobia which courses through the country. No wonder that the deeply racist and Islamophobic Netanyahu is paying him a visit today.”
He pointed out that Netanyahu will hope to form a new Israeli government after the elections on 17 September with the support of far right politicians. One of them, Ayelet Shaked, once described “The entire Palestinian people” as “the enemy. Including its elderly and its women, its cities and its villages, its property and its infrastructure.”
Netanyahu and Johnson discussed Britain’s support for Israel and the US’s attempts to “pressure” its rival in the Middle East, Iran. It comes after Israeli airstrikes in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon threatened to spark a new war.
They also discussed Britain’s support for the “two-state solution”—the sham suggestion that Israel and the US will allow Palestinians to have a state of their own.
But Shamil Jorda from Friends of Al-Aqsa, which supported the protest, said, “How can you eat all of a pizza and then say you’re going to share it?”
Protester Sophie told Socialist Worker, “I’ve been supporting the Palestinians for years. Whenever there’s a protest, you need to get down there—especially now, when things are getting worse for Palestinians.
“Netanyahu is a war criminal. Boris Johnson is the same.”