Jewish campaign group cancels walk over safety fears as Met Police chief defends policing of pro-Palestinian march

A Jewish campaign group has cancelled today's Walk Together demonstration amid safety concerns, as the Met Police says the risk of disorder from a pro-Palestinian march is not high enough to seek a ban.

Thousands had been expected to attend the event in central London as part of the Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) event, which would have coincided with today's pro-Palestinian march.

The CAA said it cancelled the event, where people would have walked "where they please", after receiving "numerous threats" and identifying "hostile actors (who) seem to have intended to come to any meeting locations that we announced".

It added: "The risk to the safety of those who wished to walk openly as Jews in London... as part of this initiative has therefore become too great.

"We are no less angry about these marches than our Jewish community and its allies. We want to walk."

The CAA said it had suggested "concrete measures" to government aimed at changing how the pro-Palestinian protests are policed.

It highlighted concerns over antisemitic chants, inflammatory placards, and instances of glorifying terrorism, as well as incidents of violence, including attacks on police officers.

"Police have told us that they intend to handle the march no differently from the passive way that they have become accustomed to over the course of more than six months," the group added.

But the Met's assistant commissioner, Matt Twist, said the force aimed to police "without fear or favour", adding that the impact of the weekly pro-Palestinian protests was "felt widely" but had been a "particular cause of fear and uncertainty in Jewish communities".

Mr Twist added that pro-Palestinian protests had "never" reached the threshold where it was a "risk of serious public disorder".

He said: "The only legal route to ban a march is if there is a risk of serious public disorder - that is rioting or serious violence that could not be dealt with by other restrictions or conditions.

"We have never got close to that threshold on these Palestinian Solidarity Campaign (PSC) marches to date."

The CAA had announced its Walk Together after its chief executive, Gideon Falter, was prevented from crossing a road near a pro-Palestinian protest by a police officer last week because he was "openly Jewish".

Footage showed a tense, lengthy stand-off between police and Mr Falter as one Met officer described his presence as "antagonising".

The campaigner then spoke to another officer who said if he remained in the area, he would be arrested.

After the incident, Mr Falter was critical of the Met and said there were "no-go zones for Jews", while Scotland Yard apologised twice for the officer's choice of words.

The PSC protest today, which organisers claim could attract "hundreds of thousands" of protesters, will take place on a pre-agreed route.

Simultaneously, a separate demonstration arranged by the pro-Israel Enough is Enough group will go ahead following a route parallel to the PSC march.

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The Met Police said 450 arrests have been made since the pro-Palestinian marches began, with 193 of those being for antisemitic offences, the majority involving placards, chanting or expressions of hate speech.

The cost of policing the protests stands at approximately £38.5m, the Met added.