UK PM Sunak warns pro-Palestinian protests on Armistice Day ‘provocative’

LONDON (Reuters) – Plans by pro-Palestinian demonstrators to march in central London on Armistice Day are “provocative and disrespectful”, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on Friday, as police said they would do everything possible to prevent disruption.

Britain has supported Israel’s right to defend itself after an Oct. 7 attack by militant group Hamas that Israel has said killed 1,400 people, mostly civilians.

Israel has bombed the enclave daily since, killing more than 9,000 Palestinians, and prompting tens of thousands of pro-Palestinians to march through central London every Saturday demanding the British government call for a ceasefire.

London’s Metropolitan Police has said pro-Palestinians intend to hold a “significant demonstration” on Nov. 11, the anniversary of the end of World War One, but have no plans to protest on Nov. 12, when formal Remembrance Sunday events are held.

Previous pro-Palestinian demonstrations have passed through the government district of Whitehall, where the Cenotaph war memorial is situated.

“To plan protests on Armistice Day is provocative and disrespectful, and there is a clear and present risk that the Cenotaph and other war memorials could be desecrated, something that would be an affront to the British public and the values we stand for,” Sunak said on messaging platform X.

“The right to remember, in peace and dignity, those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for those freedoms must be protected.”

Sunak said he had asked interior minister Suella Braverman to support police “in doing everything necessary to protect the sanctity of Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday”.

The Met has said it would have a “significant policing and security operation” across the Nov. 11-12 weekend and would “use all the powers available to us to ensure anyone intent on disrupting it will not succeed”.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) has said it is willing to avoid the Whitehall area, the Met added.

“We have already been in positive dialogue with PSC,” Met Police Commander Karen Findlay told reporters on Friday.

“They have already expressed that they have no intention to disrupt remembrance events.”

(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; editing by William James)