The UK’s Trade Union Congress has passed its first motion which identifies Israel as a state that carries out apartheid practices, in what is being seen as a national landmark in recognising the Palestinian plight.
The TUC on Tuesday voted in favour of a motion put forward by Unite the Union which opposes the Israeli government’s plans to annex up to 30% of the occupied West Bank.
The motion identifies annexation as “another significant step in the creation of a system of apartheid” and urged the international community cannot watch Israel carry out crimes against Palestinians for any longer.
“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,” the motion read.
The motion set out three action points, which include:
“i. 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
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. 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.”
The TUC’s action has been welcomed by Palestine solidarity activists across the UK.
“We welcome this motion which reaffirms the strong support across the UK trade union movement for the rights of Palestinians,” said Ben Jamal, Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s director.
“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,” he added.
The UK’s nonviolent BDS committee, BDC, movement said they “salute” the TUC for their solidarity.
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,” they said.
“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.” the statement added.
Decades of illegal occupation
Israel has occupied the West Bank illegally since 1967, and commits various abuses against Palestinian civilians, human rights groups say.
More than 600,000 Israeli Jews live in settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, in constructions considered illegal under international law.
The Oslo agreement of 1995 divided the occupied West Bank into three: Area A, Area B and Area C.
Area A is under the administrative and security control of the Palestinian Authority (PA). Area B’s administration is controlled by the PA, with Israel controlling security. Area C is under full administrative and security control of Israel.
The US president’s so-called peace plan for the Middle East gave the green light for Israel to annex roughly 30 percent of the West Bank as part of a larger package of proposals, including negotiations with the Palestinians on a future state.
On announcing the normalisation agreement on 13 August, the UAE claimed the pact would suspend Israel’s annexation project. However details of the deal published in the media indicate that there was no agreement regarding this.
Israeli Prime Minsiter Benjamin Netanyahu said in August that Israel was “committed” to realising the controversial annexation plans, which he said were only temporarily postponed, not cancelled.