Palestine and Israel

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2006 National Delegate Conference
28 February 2006
Carried as Amended

Conference welcomes the recent UNISON delegation to Palestine and Israel to see first-hand the reality of the situation on the ground and to discuss what support UNISON can give to our sister trade unions. Conference reaffirms policy adopted at National Delegate Conference in 2005.

Conference notes that the political situation in both Palestine and Israel is extremely fluid and believes, therefore, that trade unions have a crucial role to play within civil society in building support for the peace process and a just resolution to the conflict.

Conference also notes that despite the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in September 2005 Israel has continued to create new settler outposts across the West Bank and to expand the existing settlements. Israel has also continued to build the so-called ‘Separation Barrier’, dividing Palestinian towns and villages, cutting them off from access to vital agricultural land and water supplies and leading to a de-facto annexation of territory occupied illegally since 1967.

Conference condemns the appalling social and economic conditions created by the occupation under which ordinary Palestinians have to live. Up to 65% of the Palestinian workforce are unemployed, condemning 70% of Palestinians to live below the poverty line, resulting in malnutrition amongst children and stress-related diseases in adults.

Conference condemns any proposal by the European Union, the government of Israel, the United States Administration or the British government to impose a collective punishment on the Palestinian people for exercising their democratic rights by the removal of funding which contributes to the payment of the wages of 150,000 employees including 11,000 health workers and 38,000 teachers.

Conference therefore calls on the British government to:

i)maintain all existing payments to the Palestinian people and to exercise its influence to persuade all international contributors, including the European Union and the United States Administration to maintain their payments to the Palestinian people;

ii)break with the United States Administration’s uncritical and unconditional support for governments of Israel which have maintained an illegal occupation of Palestinian territories since 1967;

iii)cease its so-called policy of “even handedness” which merely serves to preserve the status quo thereby ensuring the continuing denial of basic Palestinian rights.

Conference also believes that the cost of the occupation is having a detrimental effect on Israeli society and the economy. Twenty per cent of Israelis live below the poverty line and the government is having to cut back and privatise essential public services.

Conference calls on the National Executive Council to:

1)continue to campaign with Trade Union Friends of Palestine, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and others for an immediate end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the creation of a viable, independent and sovereign Palestinian state, alongside a secure Israel;

2)continue to develop capacity building projects and solidarity work with the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions;

Conference therefore calls for action in support of these policies at national, regional and local level by:

a)strengthening links with and providing practical support to the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions and where appropriate with Israeli trade unions;

b)insisting that the continuation of the EU-Israel Association agreement is strictly tied to Israel’s compliance with the human rights clauses attached to the agreement;

c)calling upon the United Kingdom government to take immediate steps to impose a ban on the export and import from Israel of all arms, and to campaign in the United Nations for the imposition of a mandatory arms embargo on Israel of the kind that was imposed by the Security Council on South Africa in Resolution 418 (1977);

d)campaigning actively and publicly for the dismantling of the apartheid wall;

e)continuing to support the Palestine Solidarity campaign and the Trade Union Friends of Palestine, and encouraging branches and regions to affiliate to these organisations.