Aylesbury councillor sorry for using phrase relating to Israel-Gaza war

Raj Khan in 2013
Raj Khan, pictured in 2013, said he had "not known about the controversy" and had deleted his social media post

A councillor has apologised for sharing a social media post containing a controversial phrase relating to the Israel-Gaza war.

Raj Khan, a Liberal Democrat councillor in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, shared a post featuring the phrase "from the river to the sea".

Some argue the phrase implicitly calls for the destruction of Israel.

"I had not known about the controversy. Once I realised what it meant I took it down immediately," said Mr Khan.

"As soon as I realised it caused offence, I removed it on all my posts."

Mr Khan had shared a poster of a pro-Palestine march containing the slogan.

The march went ahead peacefully in Vale Park, Aylesbury, on Saturday.

Mr Khan, who represents Aylesbury North on Buckinghamshire Council and Bedgrove on Aylesbury Town Council, has been a councillor for 26 years.

The phrase "from the river to the sea" features in a chant heard frequently during pro-Palestine demonstrations and refers to the land between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean.

'Peace for both sides'

Home Secretary Suella Braverman previously urged police chiefs to consider interpreting it as an "expression of a violent desire to see Israel erased from the world". Israel and most Jewish groups agree.

However, this interpretation is disputed by some pro-Palestinian activists who say that most people chanting it are calling for an end to Israel's occupation of the West Bank and blockade of Gaza, not the destruction of Israel itself.

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Mr Khan said: "All I believe in is peace for both sides. I value the lives of the Israelis and the Palestinians. I am a peace activist.

"It is not geographical or religious based. I am very worried about what is happening in Palestine, as millions of people are."

On Sunday, the Metropolitan Police ended its relationship with adviser Attiq Malik, who used the phrase in a 2021 speech in Luton.

Last week, the Labour Party suspended Andy McDonald as an MP for using the slogan.

Follow East of England news on Facebook, Instagram and X. Got a story? Email or WhatsApp 0800 169 1830