On Nakba Day (Weds 15th May), Camden Council elected their new mayor in a meeting at their town hall in Judd Street, London.

Activists from CADFA and Camden Friends Of Palestine gathered outside to hold their own people’s “Camden Ceasefire Council” calling for divestment of all council investment and pension funds from Israel, as well as severing of any other ties and cooperation with the state. They also want the council to make a public demand for a ceasefire and to pressure the government to end arms exports to Israel. They also recommend the council set up a working party to look at education in the area and ensure that teaching materials on Israel and Palestine challenge any representation that this is a religious conflict and give extra emphasis to the experience and voices of Palestinians in this unequal struggle. The full set of demands can be seen at the CADFA website.

The rally outside the town hall heard live connections with two Palestinians in the West Bank – Abdulwahab Sabbah from Abu Dis, and Amjad Refai who was brought up in the New Askar refugee camp after his family were displaced from Jaffa in the 1948 Nakba. At that time, 20 cities and 400 villages were seized by Israel, and 750,000 Palestinians displaced.

Amjad described how New Askar (in the West Bank) is currently targeted every night by Israeli bombs which destroy their streets, their water pipes and their electricity supplies – the same, he says, is happening in dozens of other refugee camps across the West Bank.

Abdulwahab has had links with Camden for many years and travelled there in 2005. He was shocked, when he addressed the room about the then building of the apartheid wall, to be told by a councillor that he should go to Jordan. Now 20 years later, he is hearing that while all the world is calling for the rights of Palestinian people, Camden council is holding closed meetings, banning the public, and ignoring their calls. He also spoke about the many ways in which Palestinians have suffered apartheid for years.

Both spoke of their desire for peaceful co-existence.

The mock council meeting continued with the reading of the motion, and arguments for and against (one activist posed as an Israeli, claiming she was fearful for her safety and pointing out all the wonderful things that Israel does for Palestinians). Despite her satirical intervention, the motion was of course carried unanimously, and campaigners hope that the Council will heed their petition and listen to their demands.