Pro-Palestinian protesters announce shut-down of Hackney encampment

The protesters had promised to stay put until their demands were met


A pro-Palestinian encampment (Photo:Getty Images)

Pro-Palestinian protesters who have been camping outside Hackney Town Hall for months have announced the closure of their camp.

The Hackney4pal Instagram account announced it had decided to close the camp on the July 9, when they will be sending a delegation to Hackney Council to make their final demands.

For months, protesters have been camped outside the Council demanding it “divest Israeli Arms” and break a long-held twinning relationship with Haifa.

The first demand refers to Hackney Council’s pension fund, which has investments worth £1.9m, which, claim protesters, are in “companies conducting business activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territories”.

According to activists, the fund currently holds £25,700 in stocks in Elbit Systems Ltd, which they say is a supplier of equipment to the Israeli Defence Force.

Caroline Woodley, Mayor of Hackney said the Council’s investments are in standard pooled funds, where the Pension Fund does not hold direct stock in any company.

She said: “These indirect investments in companies active in Israeli settlements represent about 0.1 per cent of the pension fund’s value. While it is unlikely that the Pensions Committee could make changes without risking breaching Law Commission guidance, responsible investment remains at the forefront of the Committee’s agenda.”

The protesters have also been demanding the Council end a twinning relationship between Hackney and the Israeli town of Haifa.

Protesters said that despite their efforts, they expected the Council to “dismiss divestment”.

The group, who have been asking supporters to bring them “snacks, dry fruit and peanut butter”, said they would need to change tactics if their demands were not met.

In a statement posted to Instagram, they said: “It is sad to be closing the camp while Israel’s genocide continues. Every day, the situation in occupied Palestine gets worse for the Palestinian people. But we remain committed to Palestinian liberation!”

They added: “We will escalate our actions to increase pressure on the Council until out demands are met.”

In May, one protester who had been there every day since the camp was erected told the Hackney Citizen: “If it takes six months, then that’s how long we’ll stay.”

Levi Shapiro, from the Jewish Community Council (JCC) of North London based in Stamford Hill, welcomed the news of the camp dismantling. 

He said: “We welcome this decision and help from Hackney Council. it’s understandable people in the community felt uncomfortable attending council appointments whilst being met with this encampment on the steps of Town Hall.”

Hackney Council has been twinned with Haifa since 1968.

In May a Council spokesperson said: “The council is twinned with Suresnes, Haifa and St George’s.

“The council does not have an active role in managing the links; they are self-sustaining based on the community connections that have built up over many years.”

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