Thousands rally in London for Palestine ceasefire amid criticism of vote at UN

Protesters call for immediate end to conflict as police declare the Israeli embassy a no-go zone

Pro-Palestine protesters march in London on Saturday. Getty Images
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A pro-Palestine march took place in central London on Saturday, with protesters calling for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas conflict.

Demonstrators met at Bank Junction at midday and walked to Parliament Square.

The event was organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

London Metropolitan Police set conditions for the protest, enforcing an exclusion zone around the Israeli embassy and requiring the protest to adhere to a predetermined route.

The police emphasised the importance of lawful conduct during the event and the need to conclude speeches and assembly by the late afternoon.

Thirteen people were arrested by Saturday evening, police said, most of them for holding "offensive placards''.

UK's abstention from UN ceasefire resolution draws criticism

The protest follows the UK's decision to abstain from a UN Security Council resolution calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, a motion ultimately vetoed by the US.

Dame Barbara Woodward, UK ambassador to the UN, said Britain was focusing on supporting “further and longer pauses” for humanitarian aid and the release of Israeli hostages while condemning the actions of Hamas against Israeli civilians.

Ben Jamal, director of the UK-based Palestine Solidarity Campaign, expressed deep concern over the situation in Gaza, comparing the destruction to that experienced in German cities during the Second World War Two, but over a much shorter period.

Speaking to The National, he said: “The vote yesterday by the UK was a particularly shameful moment in a long history of complicity with Israel's oppression of the Palestinian people by successive UK governments.

“But at this moment, when Israel has killed over 17,000 Palestinians, including more than 7,000 children, and is making clear its intention to carry on and commit more wholesale slaughter, for the UK to refuse to endorse a resolution calling for a ceasefire for the release of all hostages, and for humanitarian aid to be brought to the people of Gaza is a disgrace”.

The UK's “isolation on the world stage”, Mr Jamal said, is highlighted by the fact that 13 of the 15 UN Security Council members supported the resolution, with only the US and the UK failing to vote in its favour, despite widespread international backing.

He said there was need for a permanent ceasefire and urged the UK government to "cease its complicity" in what he described as war crimes against the Palestinian people.

In a post on X, formerly Twitter, he said: “Yesterday marked a new shameful chapter in the complicity of successive UK governments with Israel’s violation of international law”.

The protests in London are part of a larger series of demonstrations that have been continuing for several weeks, reflecting growing public concern and activism regarding international conflicts and humanitarian crises.

Updated: December 09, 2023, 5:28 PM