DOWNING Street has issued a statement as a growing number of students are starting encampments on university campuses, including in Scotland, in support of Palestine.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesperson confirmed that a group of university chancellors would be attending Downing Street later this week, to discuss “how to tackle rising antisemitism on campuses”.

There are currently 14 student encampments across the UK, including one set up in Edinburgh on Sunday (pictured below), and one in Aberdeen which started on Monday.

The National: The Edinburgh encampment was set up on Sunday afternoonThe Edinburgh encampment was set up on Sunday afternoon (Image: NQ)

The aim of the protests is to raise awareness of the relationship universities have with Israel, and to push universities to divest from Israeli companies which are directly involved with Israel’s war in Gaza.

The encampments in the UK are part of a wider global movement which started in the US and has spread across Europe, with students calling on their universities to sever ties with Israel and show solidarity with the people of Palestine.

READ MORE: Arrests in Amsterdam as police break up encampment at university

The latest developments in the UK come as the Israeli military has ordered Palestinians to evacuate parts of Rafah, where 1.4 million people are thought to be sheltering.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said Rishi Sunak had opened Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting by saying there had been an “unacceptable rise in antisemitism on our university campuses” and vice-chancellors would be meeting to discuss “the need for our universities to be safe for our Jewish students”.

“Our university campuses should be places of rigorous debate, but they should also be tolerant places where people of all communities, particularly Jewish students at this time, are treated with respect,” the spokesperson said.

The National: An encampment at King's College, Cambridge started on TuesdayAn encampment at King's College, Cambridge started on Tuesday (Image: PA)

He said a “vocal and aggressive minority” must not be able to intimidate other students or academics.

Asked what the Prime Minister’s message was to students involved in the protests, the spokesman said: “The right to free speech does not include the right to harass people or incite violence.

READ MORE: Israel forces take control of Gaza side of Rafah crossing with Egypt

“We expect university leaders to take robust action in dealing with that kind of behaviour and that will be the subject of the conversation in No 10 later this week to ensure a zero-tolerance approach to this sort of behaviour is adopted on all campuses.”

Pressed on whether police should be called in to clear protest camps, the spokesman said: “We want to see university leaders taking a robust approach to unacceptable behaviour.”

Operational decisions were a matter for police, who have been given “further powers to clamp down on highly disruptive protests”.

No instances of violence have so far been reported at the encampments in Aberdeen or Edinburgh.