Last Updated: Tue Nov 02, 2010 19:29 pm (KSA) 16:29 pm (GMT)

Media silent about "racist" Israeli FM's trip to UK

Lieberman (R) with his British counterpart Miliband (L)
Lieberman (R) with his British counterpart Miliband (L)

Firebrand Israeli Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, was in London on Tuesday to hold talks with British Foreign Secretary David Miliband as demonstrators rallied outside Downing Street to protest against the "racist" minister's visit to the United Kingdom.

Lieberman, on a tour of European capitals, was set to spend two days discussing politics with Miliband in a bid to strengthen U.K.-Israeli ties; but despite minimal media coverage his arrival did not go unnoticed by a coalition of activist groups who gathered to "tell Miliband there is no room for racists" in Britain.

About 100 people gathered to protest against Lieberman

Lieberman, a West Bank settler who is a hard-line nationalist, has been branded a racist for several fiery comments such as calling for the execution of elected Arab members of Israel's parliament as well as threatening the expulsion of Palestinian citizens out of Israel "because no Arab could ever be loyal to Israel."

The protest was organized overnight and was called by activist groups like the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Jews for Justice for Palestinians, British Muslim Initiative, Stop the War Coalition, CND and Palestinian Forum in Britain.

Media silence

 It is unacceptable that the U.K. government would be speaking to Lieberman when it refused to speak to the elected Palestinian leadership 
Ben Soffa

Despite the small number of people, around 100, the protest was vocal "until the police confiscated a mega phone and threatened to start arresting people," Ben Soffa, the executive of Palestine Solidarity Campaign, told Al Arabiya.

Protestors gathered opposite the gates of Downing Street, and were chanting against the racist nature of Lieberman's politics, as his convoy arrived.

Soffa said protestors were trying to send out a message that it was "unacceptable that the U.K. government would be speaking to Lieberman when it refused to speak to the elected Palestinian leadership."

This is Lieberman's first trip to the U.K. since he became foreign minister following the February Israeli elections that saw the Knesset shift to the right, which has worried Arab governments.

But Soffa said the fact that there was no major media coverage of Lieberman's first official visit showed that the "U.K. government accepts it is an embarrassment that they are meeting him."

During Israel's 22-day assault of the impoverished and densely populated Gaza Strip, Lieberman threatened action "just like the United States did with the Japanese in World War II," when the U.S. used nuclear bombs.

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