By Nick Clark
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Join protest against Israeli prime minister’s visit to London

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Netanyahu is on a mission to bolster support for Israeli settler colonialism
Issue 2848
Dozens of protesters with placards such as "Freedom for Palestine" to illustrate an article about 
Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu visit to London

Protesters outside the Israeli embassy in January last year (Picture: Guy Smallman)

Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu was set to face two protests on his visit to London on Friday—one from Palestine solidarity activists and one from supporters of Israel.

Netanyahu’s visit comes days after Britain signed a trade agreement with Israel worth £7 billion on Tuesday. It also comes just as Israeli cops and soldiers gear up to unleash violence on Palestinian worshippers during Ramadan. The Muslim holy month often becomes a focal point in the fight to defend Palestinians’ right to live and worship in their city.

Some 2,000 Israeli border cops have already poured into the streets of east Jerusalem, which Israel invaded in 1967 and has occupied ever since. Meanwhile, Israeli activists who want to wipe out Palestinian life from east Jerusalem plan to perform provocative acts of worship at the grounds of the Al-Aqsa mosque.

Israeli attacks on Palestinians in Jerusalem during Ramadan in 2021 sparked a mass Palestinian uprising. Police had closed off the square outside the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City—a centre of Palestinian life in the city. And they also tried to stop worshippers travelling into Jerusalem.

Police also say Israeli authorities won’t demolish any Palestinian homes in east Jerusalem during Ramadan. Demolitions and evictions—punishments that push Palestinians out of the city—were also behind the 2021 uprising.

And cops also say this time they will “allow” tens of thousands of people from the neighbouring West Bank—also under military occupation—to visit Jerusalem. Those travelling from the West Bank will still have to spend hours waiting to pass through military checkpoints.

The police and military have briefed Israeli newspapers that they want to avoid “escalating tensions” with Palestinians during Ramadan. Yet it comes after weeks of deadly raids by Israeli soldiers on Palestinian cities, towns and neighbourhoods in the West Bank.

In the latest attack, Israeli undercover forces assassinated 25-year-old Amir Abu Khadijeh by shooting him in the head, in the West Bank city of Tulkarem on Thursday.

It also comes as Israel’s government passed a new law allowing settlers to re-occupy sites in the West Bank that they abandoned in 2005. The settlers are Israeli citizens living on stolen Palestinian land. Emboldened and backed by Netanyahu’s government they’ve run riot in Palestinian towns and villages.

These are all reasons to join the protest in solidarity with Palestinians on Friday. But at the same time, supporters of Israel are also set to protest against Netanyahu.

Netanyahu has pushed Israel deep into an internal crisis with a drive to pass new laws putting more power in the hands of the government. The laws are designed to make it easier for the government to intensify Israel’s repression of Palestinians.

But hundreds of thousands of Israelis have protested against the plans—as well as hundreds of supporters of Israel in Britain. Reserve soldiers in Israel’s military have even refused to sign on for duty in revolt against the plans. And the US government—which Israel looks to for support in return for enforcing US interests in the Middle East—has criticised the plans.

They’re not concerned about Palestinians. But they worry that the changes would get rid of the cloak of legitimacy that protects Israel, exposing it further as a violent, apartheid state.

As the Times of Israel reports, Labour MP Margaret Hodge told a pro-Israel protest in London this month “supporters of Israel are only able to credibly defend the country by citing it as ‘the only genuine democratic jurisdiction in the region.’”

Netanyahu is on a mission to bolster support for Israel among Western governments despite that. He has already visited Germany and Italy, and now he wants to meet Rishi Sunak to talk about how Israel can defend the West’s “security” in the Middle East against Iran.

And because of that Western governments, including Britain’s, will keep backing him. In the agreement signed on Tuesday, Britain agreed to step up military cooperation with Israel.

It also said it would act to protect Israel from criticism at the United Nations, and from the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign. Friday’s pro-Palestinian protest is a chance to show they won’t stop solidarity—and to challenge their support for the violent, apartheid Israel.

  • Emergency protest for Palestine. No to apartheid! Netanyahu not welcome here. Friday 24 March, 10am to 12 noon,  opposite Downing Street, Whitehall, London

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