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Scuffles near Downing Street ahead of Israeli PM Netanyahu's visit

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By Sarah Taylor  with AFP
Scuffles near Downing Street ahead of Israeli PM Netanyahu's visit

Minor scuffles broke out near the British Prime Minister’s Downing Street residence ahead of the two-day visit of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

At least two people were arrested at the protest, which saw around 400 supporters of the Palestinian Territories and at least 50 pro-Israel advocates gather near the famous London road.

More than 108,000 people have signed a petition calling for Netanyahu’s arrest upon arrival in the UK for alleged war crimes committed during last year’s 50-day war in Gaza between Israel and Hamas.

The conflict resulted in the deaths of more than 2,000 people.

British parliament considers all petitions which garner more than 100,000 signatures. It’s response to this one was “under UK and international law, visiting heads of foreign governments, such as Prime Minister Netanyahu, have immunity from legal process and cannot be arrested or detained.”

Many supporters of the Palestinian Territories were unhappy British Prime Minister David Cameron will engage in talks with Netanyahu during his visit.

“We are very unhappy with the fact that our prime minister is dealing with such a terrorist country that constantly bombs Gaza, West Bank, constantly builds settlements on Palestinian land,” said a supporter of the Palestinian Territories.

Speaking ahead of the trip, Netanyahu called on Europe to support Israel, which he called “the only real shield that Europe and the Middle East have against extremist Islam, which is surging.”

Arieh Miller, Executive Director of the Zionist Federation called on protesters to be reasonable.

“Disagreeing with Prime Minister Netanyahu, there is nothing wrong with that at all. But disagreeing with the simple existence of the only Jewish state in the world… That is where I draw the line and where I have a problem,” he said.