Friends of Al-Aqsa have promised to not appear at the Cenotaph during their protest next Saturday
The Met Police said it would do everything possible to make sure protests don't interfere with Remembrance Day commemorations
Organisers are planning another national pro-Palestinian march in London on 11 November
A protest group organising a massive pro-Palestine march on Remembrance Day have said they will "definitely not" be at the Cenotaph, saying they "understand the sensitivity of the date."
The Friends of Al-Aqsa is coordinating the march which they claim will have more than 100,000 attendees.
The fact the large protest is being planned in central London on Saturday 11 November, has been criticised by many for being disrespectful.
The prime minister said on X: "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."
FOA spokesman Ismail Patel said: “We definitely will not be at the Cenotaph. We understand the sensitivity of the date.”
In response to the criticism, the Met Police issued a statement saying protest organisers had not indicated any plans to protest on Remembrance Sunday and while they plan to hold a "significant demonstration" on the Saturday, were "engaging with our officers and have said they are willing to avoid the Whitehall area, recognising the sensitivities around the date".
It added: "This is a weekend with huge national significance. We will use all the powers available to us to ensure anyone intent on disrupting it will not succeed."
We're aware of media reporting and social media commentary suggesting next weekend's remembrance events could be disrupted by protest.
As we set out in the update below, we will do everything in our power to ensure this does not happen. pic.twitter.com/dwfQzvlIlz
— Metropolitan Police (@metpoliceuk) November 2, 2023
Demonstrations calling for a ceasefire in the conflict in Gaza have attracted tens of thousands of people - with one in London last Saturday attended by around 100,000 people.
The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) urged people to join action in their local area this Saturday (4 November), before joining another national march on 11 November.
Police have faced criticism in the wake of recent marches for not being tougher over slogans shouted by some protesters, including the chant “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”, which was branded antisemitic by Home Secretary Suella Braverman, who herself has come under fire for branding them “hate marches”.
Security minister Tom Tugendhat, a former soldier himself, said he did not feel a demonstration through central London on Armistice Day was “appropriate”, telling Times Radio: "For me and fellow veterans, 11th of November is not just another day, it’s not just even a day of remembrance, it’s a day of grief.
“For many of us, it’s a day when we remember friends who are not standing with us anymore, some who fell at the time and some who sadly have taken their own life since.
“It can be a very painful moment and I think that is why this is not an appropriate time, this is not an appropriate venue for protest.
“It’s a time for us to come together and to remember all those who served our country with courage and distinction in many conflicts around the world and gave us the freedoms and liberties that we are lucky enough to enjoy today.”
Protesters surround Keir Starmer's car after Gaza speech (The National)
On Tuesday, more than 500 people joined a sit-in at Liverpool Street station in London, organised by direct action group Sisters Uncut, to demand an immediate ceasefire and an end to arms exports to Israel.
On the same day, two people were arrested on suspicion of terrorism offences after two women were seen with images of paragliders on their tops at the London march on 14 October.
Gaza has faced three weeks of unrelenting air strikes from Israel, which were sparked when more than 1,400 people in southern Israel were killed by gunmen from Hamas – the UK-proscribed terrorist organisation which runs Gaza – during its brutal assault on 7 October.
Israel's ensuing bombardment of the small Palestinian enclave of 2.3 million people has killed at least 9,061 people, according to Gaza health authorities.
Braverman criticised for 'hate marches' comments
Home Secretary Braverman's comments accusing hundreds of thousands of pro-Palestinian demonstrators of taking part in “hate marches” have been the subject of criticism.
Following protests earlier this month, she said the "river to the sea" slogan was "widely understood as a demand for the destruction of Israel".
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said Braverman's description of the pro-Palestinian protests was "posturing" and could divide communities.
Akiko Hart, interim director of the human rights organisation Liberty, told BBC Newsnight the home secretary’s rhetoric was “inflammatory and dangerous”, with ex-home office adviser Nimco Ali adding the comments were "reckless".
Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) director Ben Jamal has defended the "river to the sea" chant, saying it was “a legitimate slogan of liberation”.
'Clarity' needed over extremism
Met Police commissioner Sir Mark Rowley has called on the government to provide more clarity on the issue of extremism as he faces scrutiny over the handling of pro-Palestinian protests.
Rowley has expressed his concern over the legal definitions that limit his officers and has called for a review of how the definition should be policed.
In the meantime, lawyers from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) are working alongside the police to identify offences.
The Met Police said last week: “There is absolutely no place in London for hate crime.
“Officers will respond to any criminality where they see it and take decisive action, but there may be things not seen in the moment.
“We’ll also be reviewing CCTV and images/video shared by the public to identify offences.”