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Motion passes at TUC Congress 2020 opposing Israel’s annexation plans

  • TUC passes motion which for first time in TUC history identifies Israel as a state practicing apartheid
  • Motion commits the TUC to continued partnership working with Palestine Solidarity Campaign in building opposition to Israel’s annexation plans and calls for the UK government to take decisive action including sanctions
  • The passing of this motion follows the release of a statement signed by 12 major trade unions alongside charities and faith leaders that called for public bodies to end any complicity with Israel’s violations of international law

Today the TUC has voted in favour of a motion put forward by Unite the Union which opposes the current Israeli government’s plans to annex up to 30% of the West Bank. The motion, which passed today, identifies annexation as “another significant step in the creation of a system of apartheid” and has been welcomed by representatives of Palestinian civil society.

Israel’s treatment of Palestinians has been regularly cited by UN Special Rapporteurs on the Human Rights Situation in Palestine as evidence of an Apartheid system in action. Examples of this include reports by Richard Falk, John Dugard, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia.

The Israeli Government has said that it intends to annex large swathes of Palestinian land which was militarily occupied in 1967. This would be the culmination of years of appropriation of land – through the forced displacement of Palestinians, settlement and the annexation of East Jerusalem. Annexation, illegal under international law, is the forcible and unilateral acquisition of territory over which it has no recognised sovereignty and to make it an integral part of the state – in this case, Israel.

50 former foreign ministers and leaders from across Europe issued a joint statement expressing “deep concern” that US President Trump’s Middle East plan contradicts internationally agreed parameters for the Middle East peace process, relevant UN resolutions and the most fundamental principles of international law.

Recent commentary around the UAE-Israel deal brokered by Donald Trump has suggested a roll back of Israel’s intention to annex Palestinian land, rather than a temporary delay. However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared immediately after the deal was announced: “There is no change to my plan to extend sovereignty, our sovereignty in Judea and Samaria, in full coordination with the United States.”

Through the passing of the motion, congress resolves to “fully support and play an active role in the Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s actions to build a broad coalition against the proposed Israeli annexation” as well as to send a letter to the prime minister calling for sanctions on Israel until it reverses its annexation plans, ends its occupation and the siege on Gaza, and allows Palestinian refugees their legal right to return to their land. Congress will also “communicate its position to all other national trade union centres in the International and European Trade Union Confederations and urge them to join the international campaign to stop annexation and end apartheid.”

This motion comes one week after a statement was released by over 20 charities, trade unions, religious groups, and civil society organisations urgently calling on public bodies to “uphold their ethical and legal responsibilities to ensure human rights and international law are respected” as a direct response to Israel’s illegal annexation plans.

 

Ben Jamal, PSC Director, said: “ We welcome this motion which reaffirms the strong support across the UK trade union movement for the rights of Palestinians. By rightfully  identifying that Israel is practicing a system of apartheid, the consequences become clear: There can be no normalised relations with any state practicing apartheid unless one is to become a reinforcing part of the system. We applaud the TUC for calling clearly for sanctions.”

The BDS National Committee (BNC), said: “The BNC – the largest coalition in Palestinian society, including all major trade unions – salutes the TUC in the UK for condemning Israel’s plans for formal annexation as yet another major manifestation of its apartheid regime against the Palestinian people. With this, TUC joins a growing consensus among progressives worldwide that Israel’s regime constitutes apartheid, military occupation and settler-colonialism. We urge UK trade unions to take the next logical step and intensify effective and strategic BDS campaigns to end UK complicity in Israel’s oppression of Palestinians.”

 

Full Text of Motion

Congress stands united in its full opposition to the Israeli government’s declared intention to annex great swathes of the West Bank, a move that is illegal under international law and that makes clear there is no intent on the part of the Israeli government to end the occupation and recognise the Palestinian people’s right to self determination. It will be another significant step in the creation of a system of apartheid.

 

For too long the international community has stood idly by as the Israeli state has been allowed to carry out its crimes and this cannot be tolerated or accepted any longer. Decisive action is now urgently needed in relation to Israel’s illegal actions against the Palestinians.

Congress therefore resolves to:

  1. fully support and play an active role in the Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s actions to build a broad coalition against the proposed Israeli annexation and to urge all affiliates to do likewise
  2. ii. send a letter to the prime minister demanding that the UK take firm and decisive measures, including sanctions, to ensure that Israel stops or reverses the illegal annexation, ends the occupation of the West Bank and blockade of Gaza, and respects the right of Palestinian refugees to return

iii.                 iii. communicate its position to all other national trade union centres in the International and European Trade Union Confederations and urge them to join the international campaign to stop annexation and end apartheid.

 

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