June 21, 2007

Unison votes 4 to 1 to boycott Israel

Ok the news. The UK public sector union, Unison, has voted for an "economic, cultural, academic and sporting boycott" of Israel.

Now this is where Engage comes in handy. I got this comment from Hulkagaard linking to this Ynet (Yediot Ahranot) article headed UK trade union backs total boycott of Israel. Ynet seems to be not best pleased with this describing the two states solution as a "retreat." Ah but by whom? No really, this is how they put it:
The union also called on Israel to retreat to the borders before the Mideast war of 1967, to allow Palestinian refugees to return to a future Palestinian state and to dismantle its settlements in the Golan Heights.
Hm, I thought they might lack objectivity so I checked out Engage. Sorry, just kidding! I checked out Engage for things like the vote, the breakdown, the motion itself and the apoplexy. I have to admit to being disappointed by the lack of that last one. In fact they've only received (or approved) 4 comments.

Anyway, here's the motion:
Motion : AgendaID 053 - Palestine

Conference continues to consider that a just solution to the Palestine-Israel conflict must be based upon international law and Israel should:

1) withdraw to its 1949-67 borders;

2) allow the refugees of 1948 to return home;

3) remove all its settlements from the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Occupied Syrian Al-Joulan;

4) take down the Apartheid Wall; and

5) respect the Palestinian people's right to national self-determination and to establish a state in the West bank and the Gaza Strip with its capital in Jerusalem.

Conference notes that the Israeli occupation has now continued for 40 years. It welcomes the formation of the "Enough!" coalition to focus protest on this anniversary.

But Conference believes that ending the occupation demands concerted and sustained pressure upon Israel including an economic, cultural, academic and sporting boycott.

Conference condemns the economic sanctions imposed upon the Occupied Palestinian Territories following Palestinian Parliamentary Elections of 25 January 2006, which make worse the appalling economic circumstances of the occupation. It is a unique example of economic sanctions imposed, not upon an occupier, but upon a population struggling against illegal military occupation.

Conference instructs the National Executive Council to:

a) continue to campaign with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and others as appropriate;

b) continue to develop capacity building projects with the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU);

c) call upon the United Kingdom government to end the arms trade with Israel;

d) produce UNISON's own material on Palestine to build knowledge among members;

e) consider inviting a PGFTU delegation to tour regions;

f) seek ways to work with the Trades Union Congress (TUC) and other trade unions on the basis of the TUC 2006 Congress resolution;

g) raise the issue of Palestine with UNION's overseas partners and with international trade union federations with the aims of:

i) suspending the European Union/Israel Association Agreement; and

ii) a mandatory United Nations Arms Embargo on Israel of the kind the Security Council imposed on South Africa in 1977; and

h) encourage branches and regions to affiliate to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), help build PSC branches and consider twinning with PGFTU organised public sector workers in Palestine.
Seems to be a call for a two state solution there so what's Engage saying this for?
It also says, using the usual code, that it is for the dismantling of Israel and it opposes a two state solution:
"Conference continues to consider that a just solution to the Palestine-Israel conflict must be based upon international law and Israel should:...

2) allow the refugees of 1948 to return home;
Now this goes to the heart of the problem in my view. Israel complying with international law means that Israel cannot exist because its existence is predicated on on-going breaches of international law. But in fairness that might not be what Dr Hirsh (Engage) meant. He may have been referring to the call to "allow the refugees of 1948 to return home." This is the usual race card played by zionists. If the right of return is allowed then every Palestinian from Jordan to Pasadena will up and invade Israel. I've been at Alliance for Workers Liberty meetings where their leader has called the right of return an "Arab chauvinist invasion."

Actually if the right of return was granted tomorrow I doubt if the impact would be instant or even soon. But what's curious about what Engage has done is that it has posited international law and the right of return as amounting to dismantling Israel as a Jewish state. The right of return is a part of international law. Of course, you might ask as to why Unison expressed them separately. I think it was to draw special attention to the situation of the refugees. But I think Engage really are saying that international law is an enemy of Israel. If that's what they're saying then I agree with them this time.

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