Teachers’ leader Courtney calls for General Strike for Palestine!

A section of the massive crowd at the rally in Hyde Park

LABOUR MP for Hayes and Harlington John McDonnell said: ‘Netanyahu must be imprisoned for war crimes. The campaign for disinvestment in Israel must be stepped up.’

CND General Secretary Kate Hudson said: ‘Make no mistake, we have seen a victory for Palestine. The young people who have led the fight have stood up to and beaten a nuclear armed state, the most heavily armed in the world.’

Imran Hussain Labour MP for Bradford East, said: ‘The Israeli state puts Palestinian children on indefinite detention without charge. These acts that are taking place are grave injustices against humanity. Decades of such brutality shames the international community. End the siege of Gaza. End the illegal occupation. Israeli leaders must be sent to the ICC for prosecution on war crimes charges. There must be the immediate recognition of the Palestinian state.’

National Education Union General Secretary Kevin Courtney said: ‘I am standing here in front of the Trade Unionists for Palestine banner, bearing the names of 15 major unions, the four largest unions in the country – Unite, Unison, GMB, NEU, along with ASLEF, RMT, TSSA, PCS, CWU, UCU, FBU, POA, Equity, the Bakers Union and the United World Transport Union. Trade unionists are here today in solidarity with the general strike in Palestine last week and we need to take similar action for Palestine here.’

The Muslim Association of Britain representative, Mustafa Al-Dabbagh, said: ‘Charities were bombed, more than 200 killed, more than 2,000 wounded, entire families were killed. Gaza is still under siege for the 15th year in a row. Israel is guilty of the greatest crimes, but the tide is turning and we will end Israeli apartheid.’

Leeds East Labour MP Richard Bergen said: ‘End the collective punishment of the people of Palestine, end the siege of Gaza, end the illegal occupation of Palestine, end Israeli apartheid, stop the British government arming the Israeli state, stop selling arms, impose sanctions on Israel and recognise the Palestinian state. Palestine has the right to exist. Palestine will exist.’

Julian Assange’s wife, Stella Moris, said: ‘Julian should be here with you today, but he’s in a nine square foot metal box in Belmarsh, a political prisoner. I wish he could see this crowd of people who, like him, give a damn. He is charged with publishing evidence of the Israeli government’s disproportionate use of force against Palestinians and its policy of keeping Gaza on the edge of economic disaster. Julian published details of Israeli war crimes and for that he faces a 175-year sentence. The IDF (Israeli Defence Force) bombed the Al Jazeera and Associated Press building in Gaza to stop the truth getting out and that’s why Julian is in jail. If wars can be started by lies, then truth can start peace.’

Labour MP for Bradford West Naz Shah said: ‘A ceasefire does not end the blockade of Gaza or stop extremists taking Palestinian homes or close the checkpoints or take Israel to the ICC, or establish a Palestinian State. So our message today is we will not stop our actions. You are the people who are the fabric of humanity, we will organise, we will not stop. Our message from London today is we will not stop until Palestine is free.’

Palestine Solidarity Campaign Chairman Kamel Hawwash said: ‘The bombs financed by American and British taxpayers have stopped falling. We now say to the British government Stop Arming Israel. I’m Palestinian and my cousin’s family is one of the families in Sheikh Jarrah that the Israelis want to take their homes from. Netanyahu and Gantz will be up before the ICC very soon.’

Tens of thousands of young people in the crowd enthusiastically joined in with musician Lowkey in singing his world-famous rap ‘Long Live Palestine’, before he then told them: ‘When you’re picking a fight with Palestine you’re fighting with London, Pakistan, you’re picking a fight with workers over the whole world. Join a union, join an organisation. Demand that unions divest from Israel. We have to learn from the Italian and South African workers who refused to load goods bound to and from Israel this week.’

Ilford South Labour MP Sam Tarry said: ‘This is a cause that has stained the conscience of humanity for over half a century. People around the world in their millions have taken to the streets in support. Ilford with Ramallah, Ilford with Gaza. Stand tall, stand proud, stand with Palestine.’

Daud Abdullah, Director of Middle East Monitor, said: ‘The apartheid regime tries to convince us that Palestine is not the problem and that Iran is. But they failed. Palestinians exist. No more to discrimination, no more to racism, no more segregation. The Palestinian people are one. Wherever they are they want freedom. They will not wait any longer. They won’t wait for the UN. Why should they wait when they can see the apartheid regime crumbling before their eyes?’

Asad Rehman, Director of War on Want, said: ‘Decade after decade, Palestinians have mobilised against injustice with one call – end Israeli apartheid. But this month every corner of the world has mobilised and answered the call of the Palestinian people. Change is coming in every corner of the world. We are speaking with one voice to end Israeli apartheid. First thing is, end the UK arming Israel.’

Labour MP for Coventry, Zara Sultana said: ‘We have a defiant message to the Israeli state – we will never abandon Palestine. We will never abandon the oppressed. This Tory government is shamefully complicit in Israeli war crimes.

We are the real international community and we are with Palestine. From the brave firefighters in the Midlands who refused to remove protesters for Palestine and the workers in Italy and Durban in South Africa who acted for Palestine.’

Glyn Secker, from Jews for Justice for Palestinians, said: ‘There are many thousands of Jews around the world who completely resile from Israel’s acts of terror, the massacre and stoning of children, Israeli youths beating up Palestinians, even some of them boasting that they are Nazis.

Two million Palestinian Israelis are rising up. Who can gainsay Desmond Tutu who said that Israel by any other name would be called an apartheid state. Now is the time for justice, now is the time for the Palestinian state. Now is the time for Palestine.’

Leicester East Labour MP Claudia Webbe said: ‘This massacre has displaced tens of thousands of Palestinians. They targeted the media basically because they don’t want the world to know the genocide. We need justice now, an end to the illegal occupation and end the apartheid regime, which is an international atrocity. The Gaza Strip is an open prison. What will it take for the UK to stop selling arms to Israel? A global movement of solidarity for the Palestinian people.’

Writer Barnaby Raine said: ‘My Judaism teaches me that none of us are free until Palestine is free. When hospitals are bombed, chant and sing, it’s time for freedom. Western states love Israel not because they love Jews but because they love colonialism. But it is coming to an end. We are here because we stand for human freedom. And I say this, there will come a day and it will be very soon, when there will be no more checkpoints, and then we will say “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be Free”.’

The final speaker, former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said: ‘It’s a complete honour and privilege to be the 31st person to speak here today. We reject racism in any form whatsoever. While we recognise the achievement of the ceasefire, the issues remain.

‘This week in Parliament I asked a question of the appropriate Minister Mr James Cleverly. I asked if any UK weapons were being used to bomb Gaza. He could not, or would not answer. In our 2017 election manifesto we were committed to recognising the Palestinian state straight away and I still stand by that.

‘I’ve had the privilege of visiting Gaza on a number of occasions and also visited young people on the West Bank. The settlement policy must end.

‘If there had not been a wonderful global outpouring I doubt the ceasefire would have been called. The occupation of the West Bank and the siege of Gaza are the issues. We will never give up on the Palestinian people. We will never forget the rights and plights of the refugees. Full recognition for the state of Palestine.’

• Photos from Saturday’s demonstration