Cathedral dean withdraws from Gaza rally

Dean of Peterborough, the Very Reverend Chris Dalliston
The Dean of Peterborough, the Very Reverend Chris Dalliston, has withdrawn from the rally [Paul Marriott]

A Church of England dean has withdrawn from a Palestine rally at which he was due to speak, saying he "would not want to appear to endorse the view that Israel has no right to exist".

The Dean of Peterborough Cathedral, the Very Reverend Chris Dalliston, was expected at the Peterborough March for a Free Palestine in the city on Sunday.

Dean Dalliston posted on the cathedral's Facebook page about his withdrawal, but also said he believed there was "no moral justification for the unrelenting violence and bloodshed that is devastating the lives of so many" in the Israel-Gaza war.

Patrick Brooks, secretary of the rally's organisers, the Peterborough Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said they were "sorry" the dean had pulled out, and added that the "slaughter of citizens of Gaza is our driving force".

The dean said he was "sorry" to withdraw from the rally, which takes place in Cathedral Square at lunchtime after a march from Rock Park along Lincoln Road.

"I further believe that there should be an immediate end to hostilities, the release of hostages, and that work should commence towards a diplomatic solution that enables all people, Israelis and Palestinians, Jews, Christians and Muslims to live in peace, dignity, safety," said the dean.

"Along with many others I believe that only a two-state solution can ultimately guarantee a future in which all can hope to flourish.

"It is for that reason, that I would not want to appear to endorse the view that Israel has no right to exist, let alone share a platform with those who might think it possible to justify any kind of violence or incite hatred."

The Diocese of Peterborough represents the Church of England in the north of the city, and in Northamptonshire and Rutland.

The city council said it had worked with organisers and Cambridgeshire Police ahead of the event.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign said members were calling for a permanent ceasefire.

Mr Brooks said: "We have, by our actions, killed the lies that our marches are hate-filled ones... we welcome all people who believe in justice on our marches and it will be no different in Peterborough.

"The dean can speak for himself, yes we are sorry that he has pulled out but the slaughter of citizens of Gaza is our driving force to end this barbaric war and see the rights of all Palestinians accorded their due respect."

The rally was also due to feature speakers including Rabbi Elhanan Beck, Louise Regan from the National Education Union and Dr Wijid Jawaid, a surgeon from Cambridge.

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