SPECIAL BRIEFING DAY 210: Prime Minister Rishi Sunak gives full support for police action at universities facing anti-Israel protests

By May 03 2024, 16:19 Latest News No Comments

Note to reader: We wanted to give you a trigger warning on what you may read below. We have chosen, as with every one of these briefings, to not share horrific images, however we want to alert you as sensitively as we can to the reports coming out of Israel and Gaza.


Prime Minister Rishi Sunak gives full support for police action at universities facing anti-Israel protests

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has pledged to give the police his support in tackling disorder on UK university campuses following concerns raised this week by Jewish students over “toxic” anti-Israel protests and sit-ins inspired by US encampments. New encampments at a number of UK universities including Manchester, Bristol, Sheffield and Newcastle have been established in recent days.

The Prime Minister’s spokesperson confirmed that “the police already have extensive public order powers to tackle disorder at protests and will continue to have our full support in doing so if needed”. “We have always been clear that Jewish students must feel safe on campuses, and whilst our universities rightfully pride themselves on their openness and tolerance and diversity, it is obviously absolutely clear that any antisemitism shouldn’t be tolerated”, the spokesperson added.

The Union of Jewish Students (UJS), which represents 9,000 Jewish students in the UK and Ireland, urged universities to respond to encampments that “create a hostile and toxic atmosphere on campus for Jewish students”. A statement issued by the UJS said that Jewish students “will not stand for this hatred”, urging universities to “[take] their duty of care to Jewish students seriously”.

Former Attorney General Rt. Hon. Sir Michael Ellis KC MP expressed concerns that some groups “wish to replicate American-style protests”. “At Columbia, students have chanted terrorist slogans. At Stanford, they have worn Hamas headbands. At Princeton, they have flown the Hezbollah flag. At Harvard, they have torn down the stars and stripes and raised a foreign one, and at George Washington, they called for the ‘Final Solution’, and posted signs saying that they would not disperse until Jews go back to their ‘real homes’”. The MP for Northampton North emphasised: “We do not want this type of terrorist-supporting delinquency at UK universities”.

U.S. President Biden said this week that “order must prevail”. He added: “Threatening people, intimidating people, instilling fear in people is not peaceful protest – it’s against the law… There should be no place on any campus – no place in America – for antisemitism or threats of violence against Jewish students”.

During Education Questions in Parliament, CFI Officer Bob Blackman CBE MP said that the rise in antisemitism is partly caused by “the failure of schools to teach children about the history of Israel and the fact that Jewish people have occupied Israel for over 3,000 years”, leading to “widespread ignorance”. In response, Education Minister Damian Hinds said he was “horrified and appalled to see the rise in antisemitism in education since 7th October”. He underlined: “It is unacceptable and it cannot be tolerated. My Right Hon. Friend the Secretary of State has written to all schools and colleges reminding them of their duties under Prevent, and we are investing £7 million to help tackle antisemitism across education”.

Deputy Foreign Secretary rejects Israel arms embargo

Deputy Foreign Secretary Rt. Hon. Andrew Mitchell MP has reaffirmed the UK Government’s opposition to an arms embargo against Israel, reflecting that “it would be an odd decision for us to take when we have used our own military weaponry to defend Israel from the attacks by Iran”. Mr Mitchell stated: “Our position on the arms embargo is consistent with most of our like-minded partners, who have not taken any decision to suspend existing arms export licences to Israel”. He also underlined the UK’s view that the International Criminal Court (ICC) does not have jurisdiction over Israel, following controversial reports that the body is preparing to issue arrest warrants for senior Israeli leaders.

The Leader of the House of Commons, Rt. Hon. Penny Mordaunt MP, echoed the Deputy Foreign Secretary’s remarks in response to a question in Parliament on arms sales, noting that “we have seen Israel have to defend itself against the most unwarranted and reckless attack from Iran”. “It is very important not only that we say that Israel has a right to defend itself, but, because it is one of our allies and partners, that we understand our obligations to enable it to do so”, she added.

Business and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch also expressed concern over a blockade at her Department by protesters calling for an arms embargo, stating that “civil servants who needed to get to work could not do so”.

Leader of the House of Commons Rt. Hon. Penny Mordaunt MP

This week in Parliament…

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said in Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) that it should be acknowledged that “Israel suffered an appalling terrorist attack that killed hundreds of its citizens, and it does have the right to defend itself”.

Armed Forces Minister Leo Docherty called on Hamas to “lay down their arms and to release the hostages”, stating “that is the precondition for any kind of meaningful and sustainable ceasefire”.

CFI Parliamentary Chairman (Commons) Rt. Hon. Stephen Crabb MP said “Iran continues to present one of the most pressing and dangerous threats to the Middle East and to global stability”, pressing the need for “an integrated defence strategy comprising different nations of the region”.

CFI Vice Chair Andrew Percy MP said he was in Israel on the night of the Iran attacks, and “saw the jets in the sky, David’s Sling and Iron Dome dealing with the ballistic missiles as they came in”. He was “very proud to know that our forces were involved, and the Israelis were very grateful for our activity”. The MP for Brigg and Goole urged the UK Government to “continue to do everything we can, militarily and through intelligence, to help Israel to locate [the] hostages” in Gaza.

CFI Vice Chair Rt. Hon. Theresa Villiers MP said “we are seeing real progress on aid”, with Israel “facilitating aid getting into Gaza by air, land and sea, with 468 trucks entering the area in a single day”.

Rt. Hon. Robert Halfon MP raised concerns that “Hamas and Islamic Jihad are appropriating aid meant for the Palestinians” and said “British armed forces could play a significant role” in dismantling Hamas’ terror tunnel network under the Egyptian border.

Rt. Hon. Suella Braverman MP said she had been assured by senior Israel Defense Forces (IDF) personnel that Israel is “doing everything in their power, and are working with allies, to increase aid to Gaza”. She added: “It is patent that Hamas are obstructing the distribution of aid within Gaza—another reason why we need to support Israel in defeating Hamas”.

Rt. Hon. Robert Jenrick MP said “Hamas are a terrorist organisation that hate the United Kingdom and everything that we stand for” and British troops should continue “facilitating the complete eradication of Hamas”.

Anna Firth MP urged the UK Government to proscribe the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and said it “funds and supports Hamas”.

Antony Higginbotham MP said Iran has violated the JCPOA Nuclear Deal and “its nuclear programme is way beyond anything needed for purely peaceful processes”, adding that “Iran is threatening journalists on UK streets, and its proxies in Hamas, Hezbollah and the Houthis continue to inflict tragedy on the region”.

Lord Robathan highlighted Iran’s “malign influence” and support for Hamas and Hezbollah.

IDF Spokesperson

Hamas seizes first aid shipment to Gaza through newly reopened Erez Crossing

A US State Department spokesperson has confirmed that a significant shipment of humanitarian aid was seized by the Hamas terror group, after entering Gaza through the Erez Crossing with Israel.

The border crossing has been renovated after being mostly destroyed by Hamas during the 7th October attacks. The aid, which was delivered to Gaza from Jordan, “was picked up by a humanitarian implementer for distribution inside Gaza, and that aid was intercepted and diverted by Hamas on the ground in Gaza”, the spokesperson said.

The United Nations is reportedly in the process of recovering or has by now recovered the aid.

Israel has long maintained that humanitarian aid intended for civilians in Gaza has been misappropriated by Hamas.

Colonel Moshe Tetro, head of Israel’s Coordination and Liaison Administration for Gaza, said that the intention is for 500 aid trucks to enter Israel daily with the crossing open every day. “This is only one step of the measures that we took in the last few weeks”, he said.

2 Israelis confirmed murdered on 7th October

Kibbutz Be’eri has confirmed that father-of-three Dror Or was murdered during the 7th October attacks and that his body is being held in Gaza.

The 49-year-old was abducted with two of his children on 7th October after Hamas terrorists set their home on fire in Kibbutz Be’eri. The body of Dror’s wife and the children’s mother, Yonat Or, was found several days later. The children, 17-year-old Noam and 13-year-old Alma, were released on 25th November as part of the temporary ceasefire deal. Their older brother was not home on the day of the attacks and survived. Dror was a chef and cheesemaker in the award-winning Be’eri Dairy, and his wife Yonat was an entrepreneur.

The announcement of Dror’s death is likely to have followed the recent discovery of forensic evidence.

According to news reports, the body of 23-year-old Elyakim Libman, who was believed to have been abducted to Gaza, has been found in Israel.

Turkey stops all trade with Israel

Turkey has unilaterally decided to halt all trade with Israel, citing Israel’s military offensive in Gaza. The Turkish Trade Ministry said that “export and import transactions in relation to Israel have been stopped, covering all products”, adding that the measures would be in place until Israel allowed an “uninterrupted and sufficient flow” of aid into Gaza.

Turkish ports were already reportedly preventing the export of goods to the Israeli ports of Haifa and Ashdod, and goods imported from Israel were not being unloaded.

Bilateral trade was worth almost £5.6 billion in 2023. Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said Turkish President Erdogan had broken trade agreements, stating: “This is how a dictator behaves, disregarding the interests of the Turkish people and businessmen, and ignoring international trade agreements”. Israeli Economy Minister Nir Barkat has submitted a complaint to OECD chief Mathis Cormann over Turkey’s decision.

The decision follows Turkey’s announcement of export trade restrictions to Israel on 54 products including construction materials and equipment.

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