Police to move protesters away from Kedem store
Pro-Israel protestors demonstrate in support of the Kedem store (Photo: Sander Ginkel)
Police have put a stop to a five-week protest outside a Jewish-owned shop which sells Israeli products.
Pro-Palestinian activists and Israel-supporting counter-protesters will be moved away from the Kedem store, in a central Manchester, to a nearby "designated protest area”.
In a statement, Greater Manchester Police said "the cumulative impact of the daily protests" had caused significant disruption to businesses, and had intimidated shoppers and workers.
Police were acting because the disruption had "now exceeded the legal threshold required under the Public Order Act".
The new arrangement, which comes into force tomorrow, will see only a maximum of 10 demonstrators allowed to gather at any one time.
Manchester chief constable Peter Fahy said police had tried to balance the right to protest with rights of workers and shoppers in the city centre.
“We will continue to work with civic and faith leaders and with local community groups to ensure that the important issues behind the current Middle East conflicts can be properly debated in the city in a way that does not cause serious disruption or endanger community cohesion.
"Protests such as this, which polarise views, are emotive and present difficult challenges for all involved,” he said.
Zahi Surezki, co-owner of Kedem, welcomed the move.
“If the protest moves around the corner we don't find that problematic because it can't stop us from our right to trade. We will see how it will affect us in the long term.”
“I think the police could have acted quicker but I understand that it takes time to take a decision like this, which is against normal British laws on peaceful protests. But at the same time there was so much antisemitism and racism in the street,” he said.
Mr Surezki thanked the Jewish community and those from Christian and other groups who had supported the store.