On Thursday 11 January, 10 Downing Street accepted delivery of 1,410 letters calling for the removal of Hamas from the UK’s Proscribed List of Terrorist Bodies, which were created through a petition at www.cc.tiny/hamas.
Hamas: a call to de-proscribe the political wing
The letters were delivered by the organiser, Pete Gregson – chair of One Democratic Palestine (an association of 85 members which campaigns for a single-state solution) – along with a few supporters. The GMB union expelled Gregson for alleged antisemitism.
With the petition, he pointed out that whilst the Hamas military wing, the Qassam Brigades, were proscribed in 2001, the political wing was only added in 2021 – following the then-home secretary Priti Patel’s secret meetings whilst on an Israeli holiday. The Terrorism Act 2000 provides that any person affected by proscription may call upon the government to remove the proscribed body from the list.
Gregson originally sought to lodge the petition through the Parliamentary Petitions website, only to be informed that it was rejected because “It calls for an action relating to a particular individual, or organisation outside of the UK Government or Parliament.” Undeterred, he approached GoPetition in the US, which agreed to carry the petition.
It has been featured in various publications, including Middle East Monitor, Russia Today, and Al Jazeera – and publicised through flyers and social media.
Given that recently Palestinian activists such as Craig Murray, Tony Greenstein, and Mick Napier have been arrested for declaring support in some way for Hamas, Gregson said he was amazed and pleased that he was allowed by parliamentary police to deliver the letters.
Branding Hamas terrorists – escalating the situation?
Gregson was assisted in making the delivery by two fellow activists, Moloy Hoque and Palestinian Zina Abdullatif Baird. Separately from the letters, 30 people have submitted written applications for Hamas’s de-proscription to the Head of Counter Terrorism Policy at the Home Office.
Media-wise, 270 journalists were emailed details of the Downing Street action, but only Al Jazeera and Russia Today Arabic Services chose to feature it. The video of the action is available on YouTube:
Given Hamas’s rise in popularity in the West Bank and Gaza since 7 October, Israel should realise that as long as it oppresses Palestinians and steals their land, Hamas will continue…
Our government’s branding of them as terrorists encourages Israel to even greater excesses in its decimation of Gaza. But let’s not forget that Downing Street chose to negotiate with Sinn Fein and the IRA rather than carpet-bomb Derry, which is why we have peace in Northern Ireland today.
By excluding the elected leaders of the Palestinian people from discussions, we deny the Gazans a voice – and remove a partner for peace.
Featured image via One Palestine