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'Do unto apartheid Israel what you did to apartheid South Africa': trade unions protest attack on Gaza

Resolution on Palestine adopted by Unite Union (Aotearoa/New Zealand), posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

July 18, 2014 -- Over 170 Palestinian political parties, unions and other organisations including the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions issued a call in July 2005 for a global campaign of boycotts and divestment against Israel similar to those imposed against South African Apartheid.

Unite Union will work to

1. Demand the Israeli Government immediately withdraw from the occupied territories and abide by UN resolution 242 which requires Israel to withdraw to 1967 borders.

2. Support the international campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions on Israel until it meets its obligation to recognise the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination and fully complies with the precepts of international law including the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.

3. Call for the end of suicide bombings, military assaults and other acts of violence that take the lives of innocent people and demand that the Israeli–West Bank barrier – the apartheid wall – be immediately torn down.

4. Develop an education campaign about the apartheid nature of the Israel state for Unite Union members and work with the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions to take this campaign to all New Zealand workers.

5. Propose this resolution to the Council of Trade Unions for adoption as official CTU policy.

6. Call on the New Zealand government to increase humanitarian aid to Palestinians that have been affected by the ongoing conflict.

Unite Union is taking these steps because of the appeal to support Palestinian workers and because:

- No lasting peace can be created unless there is implementation of international law, United Nations resolutions and respect for the human rights of both Palestinians and Israeli citizens.

- 42 years ago, the United Nations Security Council unanimously called for Israel to withdraw from territories it invaded in 1967 (West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem) in resolution 242.

- Israel has refused to implement resolution 242 for 42 years and, moreover, has illegally established Jewish-only settlements in these areas in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

- The Israeli Apartheid Wall has been condemned and determined illegal under international law.

- The apartheid barrier severely restricts the movement of and work possibilities for Palestinians, violates international law, is partially built on land.

Note: New Zealand's national peak trade union body, the Council of Trade Unions, has adopted a resolution that is almost identical as its position. See http://thedailyblog.co.nz/2014/07/22/ctu-resolution-on-palestine/.

* * *

The following notes were prepared by Unite national director Mike Treen.

1. Boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) is a demand by the Palestinian people, and the Palestinian unions in particular. An appeal was issued in July 2005 by Palestinian civil society. More than 170 bodies, including trade unions, political and social organisations, and womens’ and youth groups. Its signatories represented all three components of the Palestinian nation: refugees, those living under occupation and Palestinian citizens of Israel. It has support from Jewish Israeli advocates of genuine peace. They demand that Israel: 1. End its occupation of all Arab lands, dismantling the Wall and freeing all Palestinian and Arab political prisoners; 2. Recognise the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; 3. Respect, protect and promote the rights of the Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN General Assembly resolution 194.

2. In 2004 the International court of Justice (ICJ) declared illegal the “Separation Wall” and settlement-colonies Israel is building on Palestinian occupied land. The ICJ also ruled that Palestinian whose lives have been damaged must be compensated and that all nations have an “obligation to ensure Israel complies with international law.”

3. In September 2009 UK Unions supported the initiation of a mass boycott movement , divestment and sanctions. Similar calls have been issued by union federations in South Africa, Norway, Ireland and Scotland.

4. In the midst of the assault on Gaza in 2008, 500 Israelis, dozens of them well-known artists and scholars, sent a letter to foreign ambassadors stationed in Israel. It called for “the adoption of immediate restrictive measures and sanctions” and draws a clear parallel with the anti-apartheid struggle. “the boycott on South Africa was effective, but Israel is handled with kid gloves… This international backing must stop.”

5. The “apartheid” comparison is legitimate as the consequences of an occupation that has lasted over 40 years that has seen two generations of Palestinians grow up in the occupied territories effectively denied rights of citizenship. Any rights associated with the territory nominally under Palestinian control is effectively circumscribed in much the same way the Bantustans were in South Africa. The comparison has been made by former US President Jimmy Carter, the Israeli Human Rights group B’Tselem, and Bishop Tutu of South Africa. The editorial board of Israel’s leading newspaper Ha’aretz observed in September 2006 that “the apartheid regime in the territories remains intact: millions of Palestinians are living without rights, freedom of movement or a livelihood, under the yoke of ongoing Israeli occupation.” Chris Hedges, Foreign Correspondent of the New York Times wrote in December 2006: “Palestinians in Gaza live in encased and squalid, overcrowded ghetto, surrounded by the Israeli military and a massive electric fence, unable to leave or enter the strip and under daily assault…This is more than apartheid.”

6. A campaign around BDS of Israel has a power in NZ precisely because of its association with similar, successful campaigns against South African apartheid.

7. The rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel are increasingly circumscribed as the Israeli state insists on its “Jewish” character to the exclusion of the Palestinians. This affects access to health, education, water , housing and land. Acceptance of the Jewish character of the state is now a precondition of the renewed peace talks’ farce.

8. Israel now has 300,000 settlers in 200 plus settlements on the West bank plus at least 180,000 more settlers in East Jerusalem. Some are twice the size of Manhattan with their own schools, universities, shopping malls and billions of dollars invested in infrastructure and a segregated, for-Jews-only highway system, 300 kilometres long, cutting up the West Bank with Palestinians imprisoned between these concrete and asphalt barriers.

9. For the two-state solution to remain valid – there must be an unconditional withdrawal to the 1967 borders with no conditions. The settlements must be dismantled.

10. Failure you do so will increasingly raise the other legitimate alternative future – a unitary, democratic and secular state over the whole territory with equal rights for all its citizens.

11. The existing state of Israel justifies its continuing war and occupation of Palestine on the basis that some people in these territories and abroad won’t recognise the state of Israel. This is simply another version of the Big Lie. Every faction in Palestine recognises the “fact” of Israel in its pre-1967 border (including Hamas).

12. Israel itself, however, will not recognise its own borders. There is no Israeli map with the 1967 border delimited. East Jerusalem has been annexed. The Apartheid Wall follows no border. All Israel political leaders refer to the West Bank as “Judea and Samaria”. The continuing existence of the settlements is declared to be non-negotiable. There is no acceptance of Palestinian refugees right of return (a condition for UN recognition of Israel in 1948). There is no “recognition” of the Palestinian right to even establish a state let alone what borders it may have. Now Israeli leaders insist that not just the “State of Israel” that must be recognised but the “Jewish” character of that state – i.e. the eternal dispossession of the Palestinian refugees and second class status of Palestinian citizens.

 

Statement by the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa

July 17, 2014 -- The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) is outraged at the Israeli Defence Force’s bombing of Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip, and the ongoing administrative detentions, house raids, and murder of Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

We reject the Israeli Apartheid State’s pretext that the military attacks in Gaza are acts of self-defence. We lend our unequivocal support to the Palestinian people in Gaza as they face and resist the military nuclear power of Israel with no official military of its own. The Israeli Apartheid regime fails to acknowledge the true origins of Palestinian resistance, i.e. the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land.

Having experienced Apartheid, we express our revulsion at the bloodletting of the Israeli regime. Even at the height of Apartheid in South Africa, such brutality was not experienced. We will never forget that it was the Israeli government’s close military ties with the South African Apartheid Regime that prolonged Apartheid and the oppression of the masses of South Africa. Neither will we forget that it was our Palestinian comrades who supported our liberation struggle, at a time when many had deserted our liberation movements.

NUMSA calls for the immediate expulsion of the Israeli ambassador in South Africa, Arthur Lenk, and the recall of Comrade Sisa Ngombane from Tel Aviv. Israel must be politically isolated in the same way that Apartheid South Africa was. We also call on the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to follow-up and investigate the Gaza Docket, and prosecute all South Africans conscripted to the IDF, and participating in Israel’s war-crimes against the Palestinians.

We support Palestinian civil society's call for an immediate, full military embargo on Israel. South African citizens and businesses must be discouraged from supporting Israeli settlements – illegal under international law. Products from Israeli settlements must not be sold in South Africa, this ban must immediately be implemented by the Department of Trade and Industry.

We call on the South African government and Non-Aligned Movement to support the implementation of a comprehensive Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel until the Israeli government:

(i) releases all Palestinian political prisoners immediately;

(ii) ends its occupation of the West Bank including East Jerusalem, and dismantles the Apartheid Wall;

(iii) Acknowledges the right of return of Palestinian refugees.

(iv) relinquishes its nuclear weapons, and accedes to the Non-Proliferation Treaty;

Silence is complicity, and we will not remain silent in the face of Israeli Apartheid aggression and occupation. An injury to one is an injury to all.

NUMSA supports and will be part of the upcoming Nelson Mandela Day Protest in Solidarity with the Palestinian people being organised by BDS South Africa at the Israeli Embassy Trade Office in Sandton.

 

Congress of South African Trade Unions statement on Israel's bombing of Gaza: Do unto apartheid Israel what you did to apartheid South Africa

July 10, 2014 -- On the night of the 8th July, 2014, Gaza woke up to the tremors of earth-shaking bombings by the Israeli Defence Force (IDF). It is said since then more than 27 Palestinians, including more than six children among them, were killed and more than 200 have been injured as a result of the airstrikes by Israel. Dozens of homes have been demolished and several families lost relatives.

The Israeli cabinet has further authorised the reactivation of 40,000 army reservists in anticipation or signalling a possible ground offensive, to top up those already deployed in and around Gaza. How do we explain 60 airstrikes in one day?

The intensification of the mass arrests against Palestinians in various parts of the occupied territories, such as in West Bank where about 500 Palestinians have been arrested in a space of three weeks. Mohammed Abu Khdier a Palestinian child was kidnapped, tortured and burnt alive in Jerusalem. Mohammed is among millions of Palestinian children who have for years been murdered by the state of Israel in the name of self-protection against “terrorists”.

We firmly support the African National Congress statement that, “In line with our 2012 policy resolutions, that called on "all South Africans to support the programmes and campaigns of the Palestinian civil society which seek to put pressure on Israel", branches and structures of the ANC across the country will be joining the Palestine solidarity and boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement in organising protests and pickets calling for the immediate end of Israeli violence against the Palestinian people.

We call on all South Africans, Black, White, Jewish, Muslim, Christian and all others to join us in expressing our solidarity. Solidarity will bring us together as different South Africans just as how the international anti-apartheid movement brought people together”.

It is only those who have lost their humanity who cant feel or share in the pain felt by the suffering people of Palestine from the barbaric and savage attacks by what has become the most acceptable, deliberate and legalised murder and deliberate violation of international law by a country.

Israel is only able to commit all these ruthless atrocities because of the licence from the US, EU and allies. The UN must be ashamed of itself for failing humanity and the people of Palestine, always pleading for restraint from the victim, equally. We cannot equate an aggressor to a victim or coloniser to a colonised. Nelson Mandela was also called a terrorist for fighting for freedom, hence the natural task of oppressed people to wage a liberation struggle and our natural responsibility is to support them.

We call on the international trade union movement, various civil society organisations, international religious bodies and even business to speak out against savagery and barbarism against fellow human beings. We support the call to recall South African ambassador to Israel, kick out the Israeli ambassador from South Africa and move with speed to decisively isolate Israel and all who sympathise with racism and Zionist occupation all over the world.

Now is the time for the world to stop words of pity and lamentation, but take action by doing what it did to apartheid South Africa when its policies were declared a crime against humanity. Indeed, apartheid remains a crime against humanity wherever it happens. If apartheid cant outrage us, our humanity is called into question and our morality is hollow.

 

Britain’s biggest trade union slams Israeli apartheid, commits to BDS

July 4, 2014 -- Unite, Britain’s biggest trade union, has slammed Israel as “guilty of the crime of apartheid” and committed itself to BDS campaigning.

The Labour Party’s biggest union backer considered three motions related to Palestine at its annual policy conference in Liverpool this week, of which two were carried.

The main "Israel and Palestine" motion condemned Israeli violations of international law such as settlement construction, “crimes of persecution against the Palestinian people” and the Israeli military’s detention and “torture” of Palestinian children. As well as the situation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Unite also highlighted the “racist laws” affecting Palestinian citizens of Israel.

The motion commits Unite to taking “bolder steps like those that were taken against the South African apartheid regime” as part of the fight against “the Israeli ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people”. The union will work with others to develop a “campaigning and leverage strategy around BDS within the next 12 months”, notably “against complicit companies involved in the occupation, the apartheid wall and the illegal settlements (such as Veolia, G4S and Sainsburys)”.

Unite also passed a motion on the “inhuman conditions of siege” in Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria, where Palestinians have been killed in military attacks and died from malnutrition. The conference urged “all parties to withdraw and allow humanitarian aid to reach [camp residents] without further delay.” As part of the Yarmouk resolution, Unite also reaffirmed “its commitment to Resolution 194 which asserts the rights of Palestinians [expelled by Israel] to return to their land”.

A motion titled “Israeli-Palestinian Co-operation” was not carried, however. The motion expressed support for the stricken US-led peace talks and encouraged engagement with both Israeli and Palestinian trade unions.

Source: Middle East Monitor

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