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Pro-Israeli settlement NGO given platform in London

A PRO-SETTLER Israeli NGO that advocates the demolition of Palestinian villages was given a platform in north London today, sparking protests from a coalition of campaign groups.

 

Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), the British strand of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) and Stop Demolitions held an emergency protest outside the event which featured a spokesperson from the far-right pro-settler NGO Regavim.

 

The notorious group was invited to the capital by powerful lobby group UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI), despite being widely regarded as an extremist organisation.

 

Regavim’s work centres on petitioning Israeli courts for the demolition of Palestinian properties.

 

Israel’s house demolitions have been condemned by the UN as constituting war crimes.

 

Protesters at the emergency demo in Kentish Town were joined by Na’amod, an anti-occupation group of British Jews, who set up a blockade of the venue to prevent attendees entering.

 

They condemned Regavim and UKLFI saying that there was “nothing Jewish and nothing just about destroying peoples' homes.”

 

Testimonies from Palestinians affected by Regavim, including that of Nasser Nawaja, a resident of the at-risk West Bank village of Susiyah, were also read out.

 

“More than 450 people in the village of Susiyah, including children, women and elderly people, are facing imminent expulsion from their land and homes,” it read.

 

“We live under this constant threat because of Regavim’s legal work in the Israeli courts and the political pressure on the Israeli authorities.”

 

On top of Regavim’s anti-Palestinian activities, it has also come under fire for other forms of discrimination.

 

Its co-founder, MK Bezalel Smotrich, now a minister in Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, is notorious for homophobic remarks, previously describing LGBT+ Jews as “beasts.”

 

Questions were raised about UKLFI which claims to “promote racial harmony” despite refusing to accept the illegality of Israeli settlements under international law.

 

The lobby group’s patrons include Lord Carlile, who has been chosen by the British government to review Prevent, its heavily criticised strategy for countering extremism.

 

Campaigners have raised major concerns about Lord Carlile taking on this role while being the patron of a charity that is hosting an organisation like Regavim.

 

PSC director Ben Jamal said: “We call upon all public bodies and public figures to disassociate themselves from organisations like Regavim and UKLFI that are in our view … clearly complicit in promoting illegality and hate speech.”

 

Updated December 2. 

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