UK news

British Army expert: "Blame flotilla for deaths"

By Marcus Dysch, June 3, 2010

The former commander of British forces in Afghanistan has said Israeli troops should not be blamed for the deaths of activists on the Gaza-bound flotilla.

Speaking on behalf of the Israel Project, an international non-profit education organisation, Colonel Richard Kemp said: “We should not forget that none of these deaths would have occurred if the people on the ships had not attacked the Israelis.

“It’s wrong to blame the Israeli soldiers for the deaths. The flotilla must shoulder the blame for this.”

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Hundreds demonstrate for Israel in London

By Jessica Elgot, June 3, 2010

More than 700 pro-Israel supporters were outside the Israeli embassy on Wednesday night, waving flags, singing and denouncing Israel’s treatment by politicians and by the media.

One supporter who broke through the police barriers was taken away by police. He is thought to have been carrying a paint bomb, but police did not confirm why he had been arrested.

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Hague calls for investigation into flotilla raid

By Robyn Rosen, June 2, 2010

Foreign Secretary William Hague has said he is “seriously concerned” about Israel’s actions and called for a full investigation.

Mr Hague gave a statement to the House of Commons today and said the government had expressed its “disappointment” to the Israeli government about its lack of access to the 37 British nationals who were on board the flotilla, of whom it has been in contact with twenty-eight.

He said: “We have demanded urgent information about and access to all UK nationals involved. Their welfare is our top priority at this time.

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Cameron criticises Israel’s “unacceptable” behaviour

By Jennifer Lipman, June 2, 2010

Prime Minister David Cameron has described the events in Gaza this week as “completely unacceptable” but stressed that he remains a “friend of Israel”.

He made the comments in his first session of Prime Minister’s Questions in response to a question from Harriet Harman.

The acting Labour Party leader had asked the Prime Minister what was the status of the British nationals who had been caught up in the Gaza flotilla operation.

She added: “I’m sure he agrees this is a tragic loss of life which has angered Palestinians and dismayed friends of Israel too.

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Pro-Palestinians protest at Israeli embassy

By Jessica Elgot, June 2, 2010

Around 250 protesters gathered outside the Israeli embassy last night with anti-Israeli banners and waving Palestinian flags.

The Association of the Palestinian Community in the UK organised the protest, which took place across the road from the embassy amid heavy police presence.

Although the protest was mostly peaceful, protesters chanted “Khyber al-Yahud” – an Islamic battle cry which celebrates the death and defeat of Jews in the battle of Khyber. The also chanted “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” – a chant which calls for the destruction of Israel.

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Gaza protester charged

By Jennifer Lipman, June 1, 2010

A man has been charged with a racially aggravated public order offence following a protest over the deaths on the Gaza flotilla.

Stephen Andrew, a 19-year-old from Bolton, who had been demonstrating outside the BBC’s building in Manchester, will appear in court in July 1.

He was among up to 1,000 protesters who marched through Manchester and smashed the doors of the BBC offices.

Two officers suffered minor injuries during the incident. Another woman was arrested and has been bailed until June 16.

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Former Finchley and Golders Green MP dies

By Jennifer Lipman, June 1, 2010

The former MP for Finchley and Golders Green has died of cancer at the age of 69.

Rudi Vis, who served the constituency, once Margaret Thatcher's seat, as Labour MP from 1997 until 2010, stood down at the last election because of ill health.

Before entering parliament Mr Vis worked as an economics lecturer, then stood as a councillor three times.

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Peerage for New Israel Fund board member

By Jennifer Lipman, June 1, 2010

A board member of the New Israel Fund has been appointed to the House of Lords in the Dissolution Honours list.

Sir Jeremy Beecham, the former chairman of the Local Government Association, will be joined on the red benches by another new Jewish peer, Conservative donor Simon Wolfson.

A prominent figure in both the national and local Labour Party, Sir Jeremy will join as a Labour peer. Once the chairman of the Labour Party National Executive Committee, he also serves as a councillor and spent 17 years as the leader of Newcastle City Council.

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Finchley MP gets antisemitism committee role

By Jessica Elgot, May 28, 2010

Newly-elected MP Mike Freer is the new vice president of the Parliamentary Committee against Antisemitism.

Mr Freer, Conservative MP for Finchley and Golders Green, will be the number two to MP John Mann, who has been re-elected to head the committee.

Mr Freer’s constituency has the highest number of Jewish voters in the country. He is a member of the Conservative Friends of Israel and was chair of the Barnet multi-faith forum

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Hague: We will change universal jurisdiction

By Jessica Elgot, May 28, 2010

Foreign Secretary William Hague says he is committed to changing the law on universal jurisdiction, and that the government was planning a timetable to be announced soon.

Mr Hague had pledged during the election campaign that his party would change the law, which allows arrest warrants to be granted against war criminals, even if they are not British.

The law has meant an arrest warrant was briefly issued against Kadima party leader Tzipi Livni when she came to speak at a JNF conference in London last December.

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