by New Worker correspondent
MORE than 200 protesters gathered outside Downing Street on Monday 6th February to protest at the visit of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for discussions with our Prime Minister Theresa May.
The protest was organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) and supported by many other progressive groups and trade unions who are all outraged at the ongoing Israeli efforts to eradicate Palestine both geographically and from the historical record.
The PSC issued a statement saying: “Netanyahu’s visit comes at the start of year which marks significant anniversaries in the history of the dispossession of the Palestinian people and denial of their basic rights, including:
· 100 years since the Balfour declaration when Britain promised the land of Palestine to another people
· 70 years since the UN partition Plan and the beginning of the Nakba, which saw 750,000 Palestinians driven into exile and nearly 500 Palestinian villages and towns wiped from the map
· 50 years since Israel’s illegal occupation of Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem
· 10 years since the imposition of the siege of Gaza
“These anniversaries highlight Britain’s complicit role in Palestinian dispossession. It also highlights our continuing responsibility to act in accordance with international law, in order to support the rights of Palestinian people to justice and equality and to help secure a lasting peace.”
The protesters called on Theresa May to make Netanyahu aware that Britain was serious when it supported UN resolution 2334. The resolution confirmed the illegality of Israel’s occupation, and condemned settlement building as illegal and an obstacle to peace.
Netanyahu has made it clear that he will ignore the resolution. Theresa May was urged to make clear that Britain will follow up its words with actions, which included:
· Announce a review of all of Britain’s financial relationships with settlements and exclude all settlement goods from British markets.
· End any talk of a British trade deal with Israel unless Israel complies with international law.
· Suspend military relations with Israel – British arms exports to Israel violate the international Arms Trade Treaty (ATT).
Theresa May claimed on the eve of her meeting with Donald Trump that she would not be afraid to tell the heads of other governments when they were doing things that were unacceptable – but she failed to respond to Trump’s announcement of a ban on Syrian refugees and Muslims from seven different countries travelling to the USA.
Netanyahu came to try to involve May and the British government in a new aggression against Iran. Trump has indicated that he is ready to tear up the 2015 peace treaty between the United States and Iran, negotiated with the Obama government. The Iranians are learning yet again, like the Native Americans before them, that treaties signed by Washington are worthless.
Netanyahu said that he wants to “tighten” relations with Britain in the face of the “extraordinary aggression” from Iran after the Islamic Republic tested a ballistic missile over the weekend. Tehran denies the test was in breach of the 2015 nuclear deal.
But many suspect he is trying to divert attention from Israel’s new aggression against Palestine with another wave of Israeli settlements on their territory.
A Downing Street spokesperson said that May was expected to raise concerns about illegal settlement building but it would only form a small part of their discussions.
Netanyahu’s visit comes six weeks after Britain assisted in the passage of a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel’s illegal settlements in the West Bank as a “flagrant violation under international law”.
The resolution was able to pass because the United States made the unusual choice not to exercise its veto power.
Britain played a key role in brokering the resolution, according to the Guardian, which claimed the Foreign Office did not deny that it had been involved in the drafting process. Netanyahu reacted furiously to UNSC resolution 2334, reserving his strongest condemnation for outgoing US President Barack Obama.
In a sign of frustration with London, Netanyahu summoned Britain’s ambassador on Christmas Day for a telling-off. Nine other ambassadors were also summoned by the Israeli prime minister, including the US ambassador.