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2002 National Delegate Conference
9 May 2002

This Conference expresses its deepest concern at the escalation and continuing acts of violence in the Middle East, whoever the authors may be. We believe that bloodshed will only cease when a degree of political perspective and dialogue is restored. Only then will a satisfactory solution be found to the Arab/Israeli conflict.

Conference notes with grave concern developments in the Occupied Territories and Israel since 29th September 2000 and in particular:

1)The use by the Government of Israel of F16 fighters, helicopter gunships and heavy artillery against the Palestinian people;

2)The deaths during the following 12 months of over 600 Palestinians killed and the wounding of over 14,000;

3)The deaths of over 200 Israeli citizens and the wounding of 1,300 during this same period;

4)The destruction of houses and olive groves, the closing of roads and the blockading of all normal trade from the Occupied Territories of Gaza and the West Bank;

5)That amongst Palestinians unemployment had reached 39 per cent in September 2001.

Conference expresses its support for:

a)The right to self-determination of the Palestinian people as expressed in United Nations resolutions;

b)The right of return for the Palestinian people expressed in Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and endorsed in UN General Assembly Resolutions 3236 (1974) and 52/62 (1997);

c)The immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Israeli troops from all the territories occupied in 1967 as expressed in United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338.

This Conference welcomes the statement last year by the Prime Minister declaring his public support for the creation of a viable Palestinian state in the context of “a just peace in which Israelis and Palestinians live side by side, each in their own state, secure and able to prosper and develop”.

Conference calls upon the Government and international community to hold the Government of Ariel Sharon unequivocally accountable for its policy of violent repression and brute military force against a Palestinian civilian population, during incursions by the Israeli army into Palestinian-controlled territories in direct defiance of the US State Department’s call on Israel to withdraw.

We also call for an immediate end to the increased illegal settlement activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

This Conference calls on the international community, and in particular the United Kingdom, to take the lead in insisting that international law be applied in the occupied territories and seek to facilitate through intense diplomatic efforts the return to peace negotiations; and notes that the failure to take action could result in the undermining and even collapse of the Palestinian Authority accompanied by an inevitable and dangerous further destabilisation in the region.

This Conference further calls upon the Government to immediately suspend arms trading with Israel in the light of the above and notes that British police forces including the Metropolitan Police are buying Israeli anti-tank missiles, grenades, shells and military avionics; and further notes that British military hardware continues to be sold to Israel and used against Palestinians in defiance of United Kingdom export criteria.

Conference therefore resolves to:

i)Communicate these views to the Israeli Embassy and Government, the Palestinian Authority, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and the Trades Union Congress;

ii)Make contact with the General Federation of Palestinian Trade Unions to establish what additional support can be provided to trades unionists in the West Bank and Gaza;

iii)Further develop the already well-established links with appropriate Palestinian unions;

iv)Continue to work with the Trade Union Friends of Palestine in support of the above, and encourage regional and branch affiliations to the TUFP;

v)Call on the APF to work with the Labour Middle East Council, to promote our policies within the Labour Party;

vi)Enter into discussions with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign about closer

vii)working relations which can serve to enhance UNISON’s existing work programme.”