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Palestine march allowed to go ahead in central London following pressure from campaigners

POLICE have abandoned attempts to relocate this Saturday’s national march for Palestine following pressure from campaigners.

Campaigners said that police had threatened to relocate the London march away from the centre of the capital.

The coalition of groups behind the march, which includes the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Stop the War Coalition and Friends of Al-Aqsa, has already staged 15 peaceful protests against Israel’s war in the Gaza Strip, where the Palestinian death toll has now topped 38,000.

But last week, police indicated that they would not allow the march to end in Whitehall or Parliament Square, citing the need for businesses, tourists, the media and politicians to access the area.

Organisers believed that the decision may have reflected a politically motivated desire not to have the new government overshadowed by hundreds of thousands of demonstrators massed outside Parliament.

PSC said that police had suggested they would only allow a protest "well away from central London,” but following sustained pressure, the march will now begin at Russell Square and finish at Portcullis House outside the parliamentary offices, although not in Parliament Square itself.

Stop the War Coalition convener Lindsey German said: “We think it’s going to be a very big demonstration and we think it is vital that the new government does understand the level of anger over Gaza, which is getting worse again this week.

“I think it’s a very difficult thing for a supposed democracy to say that you can’t demonstrate outside Parliament or outside the Prime Minister’s residence. This should be a basic democratic right.

“We think the police recognised that this was unacceptable and that we were determined to make the point that we thought it was politically and democratically unacceptable.”

Ahead of the march, CND general secretary Kate Hudson said: “With the election over, we send a clear message that whoever resides in No 10, our determination and demands remain the same: an immediate arms embargo on Israel, a permanent ceasefire to end the genocide and the immediate establishment of a free and sovereign Palestinian state. 

“We call on everyone to join us in central London on Saturday to tell the new government: long live Palestine! Long live Gaza!”

Ben Jamal, director of PSC said: “The campaign for an end to Israel’s genocide in Gaza and a free Palestine will continue with urgency and renewed determination in the new Parliament.

“We cannot sit back and expect our political leaders to suddenly decide to act in line with international law and the principles of human rights – we will have to push them to do so.

“That is why on Saturday, immediately after the general election, we will march on Westminster in our hundreds of thousands to demand the UK calls for an immediate ceasefire, restores funding to UNRWA and ends arms exports to Israel.”

Police attempts to curb the protest comes months after the government published its Defending Democracy Policing Protocol, which stipulates that protests outside venues such as Parliament “should not prevent access or cause alarm or distress to attendees,” although organisers said that this had not been cited by them.

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