Despite representations from ZF members, trade unionists and others, the British Trades Union Congress today approved the following statement on Israel:
The statement contains numerous factual inaccuracies and distortions.
It refers to “Israeli military aggression and the continuing blockade of Gaza”. The ZF believes that Israel has the right to defend itself and indeed the British government and opposition leaders all accept this. The TUC did not dispute the obligation of the British government to defend its citizens from the IRA. There is no “blockade of Gaza” - the reason there are restrictions on imports into Gaza is for security, so that materials which can be used by Hamas terrorists cannot enter.
The TUC calls on the British government to end arms sales to Israel. The ZF is astonished to need to point out to the TUC that if Israel has the right to defend itself, then an arms embargo cannot be right.
The TUC calls on the British Government to seek EU agreement to impose a ban on the importing of goods produced in the illegal settlements and to support moves to suspend the EU-Israel Association Agreement. The ZF reminds the TUC that there is no legal decision on the status of the settlements so they cannot be termed ‘illegal’. The US government for one does not hold that they are illegal.
The TUC statement calls for a selective goods boycott: “To increase the pressure for an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian Territories, and the removal of the separation wall and the illegal settlements, we will support a boycott ….. of those goods and agricultural products that originate in illegal settlements - through developing an effective, targeted consumer-led boycott campaign working closely with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign - and campaign for disinvestment by companies associated with the occupation as well as engaged in building the separation wall”
The ZF reminds the TUC that successive Israeli governments have shown that they are prepared to return land taken in the defensive War of 1967 but only in exchange for recognition of Israel and a commitment to peace. Even though neither Hamas nor Fatah has agreed to this, Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005 and Sinai before that. The separation fence has saved lives because it has prevented suicide bombers entering israel – would the TUC prefer to have seen more maimed and dead victims? The ZF deplores the TUC’s call for this selective boycott, which will be taken by opponents of Israel as a green light for a general boycott. The ZF calls on consumers throughout the UK to step up their purchases of Israeli goods in protest at the TUC’s action and points out that goods boycott will be economically damaging for many Palestinians as well as many Israelis.
The TUC “reiterate(s) our encouragement to unions to affiliate to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and to raise greater awareness of the issues.” The ZF points out that the PSC is a discriminatory organisation.
The ZF deplores today’s TUC General Council Statement on Israel; calls on trade union members to protest to their union executives; and calls for increased cooperation between the TUC and the Histadrut, for the benefit of peace in the interests of both Palestinian and Israeli workers.
The ZF welcomes the JLC/BoD statement which can be read here: