A large banner defaming Israel and a large Palestinian flag have been taken down following intervention by UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI), who pointed out that they were in breach of planning law.
English planning law prohibits the display of advertisements, including banners and flags, subject to various exceptions, as set out in Regulations. The rules are helpfully explained in government guidance.
The large banner was displayed on the wall of a house facing the street near Luton’s orthodox synagogue. It read “Israel abducts one Palestinian child every 3 hours (3,255 children in 2018)”. It also bore the name and logo of the Islamic Human Rights Commission and quoted Nelson Mandela: “Our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians”.
The banner caused considerable concern to members of the synagogue, including fear of physical attacks prompted by the inflammatory allegation.
Although Luton MPs expressed sympathy with the Jewish community’s concerns, they did not succeed in getting the banner removed.
UKLFI wrote to Luton Council’s planning enforcement department, drawing attention to the apparently clear breach of the Regulations.
The letter asked that the matter be treated as a priority bearing in mind the Council’s Public Sector Equality Duty (“PSED”) under section 149 of the Equality Act 2010 to have due regard to the need to foster good relations between persons of different nationalities, ethnicities and religions.
The letter pointed out that the allegation in the banner, that Israel “abducts” large numbers of Palestinian children was highly misleading and inflammatory. Israel does not abduct Palestinian children. Israel does arrest a number of Palestinian children, mostly teenagers, because a significant number carry out violent crimes, particularly throwing stones at Israelis. The majority are released after questioning; some are detained and charged.
Unfortunately Palestinian children are encouraged to carry out this violence by programmes on official Palestinian television, Palestinian school textbooks, summer camps and other activities. However, by comparison, nearly 59,000 children were arrested in England and Wales in the year April 2019 to March 2020.
While Nelson Mandela did make the statement quoted on the banner, he also supported the right of Israel to exist in peace.
Luton Council planning enforcement responded promptly and efficiently: the banner has been removed.