11:30am Sunday 7th October 2012
By Ben Parsons
The Israeli Embassy has raised concerns with Sussex Police about protests outside a Brighton shop.
Diplomats complained about the weekly demonstrations outside EcoStream in Western Road – views echoed in a statement from Hove MP Mike Weatherley.
Activists say the company behind the shop – part of the SodaStream brand – has a factory in a part of Jerusalem where Palestinians are denied equal rights with Israelis.
They have staged regular demonstrations on Saturday lunchtimes since the shop opened in August.
Mr Weatherley issued a statement condemning the protests on Monday.
He said he had raised concerns with police about “weekly protests by anti- Israeli groups which have descended into harassment of a new business in the city”.
When The Argus asked Sussex Police if it would act on Mr Weatherley’s concerns, the force disclosed that it had met representatives of both the company and the Israeli embassy to discuss the protests.
Protester Tony Greenstein condemned the contact, saying: “It is outrageous if they are having meetings with the Israeli embassy.”
Chief Inspector Paul Betts said: “We are aware of the protests and officers have been in regular attendance to monitor the situation.
“People have the right to peaceful protest and officers will balance this right against those of other members of our community to go about their lawful business. We have had meetings with the company and also representatives from the Israeli embassy to listen to their concerns. This dialogue with both the shop and the protest groups is ongoing and is being led by our dedicated protest liaison team.
“No arrests have been necessary to date, but if specific crimes are reported then these will, of course, be investigated thoroughly.”
The company declined to give a statement on the issues raised in the protesters’ campaign.
A spokeswoman said the company had no links with counter-protesters, who have started heckling the demonstrators at the Saturday lunchtime protests, but declined to comment on whether the company had spoken to the Israeli embassy about the issue.
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