Sadiq Khan addresses claims his Gaza stance will impact on Jewish support at election

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Sadiq Khan addresses claims his Gaza stance will impact on Jewish support at election

Khan tells Jewish News:'One of the things I've always said to my Jewish friends is I'll always be straight in relation to where I stand on issues'

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Sadiq Khan speaks to Jewish News
Sadiq Khan speaks to Jewish News

Sadiq Khan has addressed claims his early call for a ceasefire in Gaza in and more recent support for a pause in Israeli arms sales might impact on support he receives from the Jewish community at next month’s mayoral election.

Speaking to Jewish News after Thursday’s eventful community hustings at JW3 Sadiq Khan and Susan Hall clash at eventful Jewish community mayoral election hustingshe said:”I have got a great relationship. It’s one of the things I am most proud of.

“One of the things I’ve always said to my Jewish friends is I’ll always be straight in relation to where I stand on issues.  I will be consistent whether I am speaking to a Jewish audience, a Muslim audience, a secular audience.

“So I will always talk about the 134 hostages, I will always talk about the 1200 killed by Hamas, I condemn that unequivocally. Those hostages must be released.

“But it is a fact, you’ve got 30, 000 men, women and children that have been killed since the first couple of weeks in October. There doesn’t seem to be a ceasefire on the horizon.

“We know that there are people who are starving in Gaza.  What I’m hoping is that the prime minister uses the influence he has got with the prime minister of Israel is to make sure he can exert some pressure to make sure we can have a ceasefire, get the hostages released.” 

Asked about claims he had failed to be tough enough on the Metropolitan Police in relation to arrests made on pro-Palestine demos, Khan told Jewish News he would urge Loondoners to be wary of anyone aspiring to be mayor “who is trying to take operational decisions.”

In a clear criticism of the stance taken by his Tory rival Susan Hall, he added:”It’s really important that in a democracy the police work independently from politicians telling them who to arrest and who to prosecute.”

Khan said this also applied to the protests, with the Public Order Act “quite clear” that “unless there’s going to be serious disorder the protests can’t be banned.”

He added only the home secretary to take the decision to ban them. “What you’ve seen over the past few months is people giving the impression the mayor can ban a march.”

Khan said what he was “clear about” was the when laws were broken the police “must take action.”

He said he was also clear about the “heightened anxiety” amongst Jewish friends and colleagues over the pro-Palestine demos.

“What I say to the marchers is, in quite unambiguous terms, is, let’s not talk about whether you’ve got freedom of speech, or on this side of the law.

“Be conscious that some of your behaviour is scaring other Londoners. Yes protest, but do it in a way that doesn’t cause concern to your friends, neighbours  and colleagues.” 

Khan also spoke about his hope of repairing damaged relations between the Jewish and Muslim communities in London as a result of the Gaza conflict, if he is elected to serve for a third term as mayor.

He said:”I would say to people, actually we spend so much time focussing on our differences, we don’t spend enough time on things we all agree with.

“And actually, there are some things we can park and come back to later on. In the meantime there’s so much stuff we can do.  The work CST does in relation to mosques and giving them advice about security. Look at what Laura Marks does, not just with Mitzvah Day.

“She’s now helping the Muslim community with Sadikka Day, to help the Muslim community do a similar social action day. Muslim councillors and Jewish councillors working together.

“I spend a lot of time with the Future Leaders programme, with Solutions Not Sides. A good example of Jewish and Muslim’s coming together in schools.

“So we actually know what myths need busting. The reality is there’s been a massive increase in antisemitism, and also in Islamophobia. Maybe we should work together to try to alleviate that.” 

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