Galloway Palestine group: no more flotillas

By Jessica Elgot, March 7, 2011
George Galloway

George Galloway

Viva Palestina has announced it will no longer sponsor flotillas to Gaza because it conflicts with the group’s charitable status.

The group, whose founders include former Respect MP George Galloway, said it would continue to support future flotillas.

An email from the group stated: “A number of supporters are asking about the second flotilla to Gaza. VP was represented on the first flotilla on the Mavi Marmara, which was so brutally attacked by Israeli forces.

“The trustees have decided that VP cannot be a sponsor the second flotilla given our charitable status, though we are, of course, entirely supportive of the aim of breaking the siege. So please refer any questions you have about to forthcoming flotilla to the organisers in Britain - an umbrella group, Britain 2 Gaza.”

In 2010 the group was investigated by the Charity Commission, which claimed it had raised more than £1m in aid for Gaza, when the real figure was just £180,000.

The Commission was concerned the money had been given to Hamas, considered by the US and EU to be a terrorist organisation. But no evidence has been found that property, vehicles or money had been given to Hamas.

The Commission also criticised attempts by co-founder Sabah Al-Mukhtar to turn the group into a non-charitable organisation, since it was registered as a charity in April 2009.

Mr Al-Mukhtar said he did not believe the charity should be subject to the Commission’s jurisdiction.

Last updated: 11:06am, March 7 2011