Palestine

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Conference
2013 National Delegate Conference
Date
18 February 2013
Decision
Carried as Amended

Conference reaffirms UNISON’s existing policy on Palestine with the following principal aims:

1)Israel to withdraw to the borders of 5 June 1967, demolish its Apartheid wall and remove all its settlements;

2)the right of Palestinians to establish a state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip with its capital at Jerusalem; and,

3)the Palestinian refugees’ right to return.

Conference welcomes the United Nations (UN) General Assembly resolution recognising Palestine as a state. It regrets the United Kingdom’s (UK) abstention in the vote but welcomes the Labour front bench’s call for a vote in its favour.

Conference notes that:

a)the rights of people living under occupation are guaranteed under article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention to which Israel is a signatory and which states that “the occupying power shall not deport or transfer part of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies” but successive Israeli governments have pursued a policy of building and expanding colonies (or ‘settlements’) in occupied territories; and,

b)the UN, European Union, and the UK government all acknowledge that these colonies, besides being illegal, threaten the prospects for peace but the EU and its member states, including the UK, continue to allow companies to import goods from these colonies and to provide them with services which encourages their continued existence and expansion.

Conference notes in particular the renewed settlement growth put in hand by the Israeli government in retaliation to the UN vote to recognise Palestine. This will more or less complete the encirclement of East Jerusalem, cut it off from the rest of the West Bank and put the viability of any two state solution in serious doubt.

Conference recalls the decisions of last year’s conference:

i)to note the conclusion of the Russell Tribunal that Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians amounts to Apartheid as defined under international law;

ii)to note the tribunal’s recommendation that global civil society replicate the spirit of solidarity that contributed to the end of Apartheid in South Africa including by supporting the campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions; and,

iii)to instruct the National Executive Council to give effect to this recommendation.

Conference also recalls last year’s decision to instruct the National Executive Council to:

A)use the UNISON website to include an explanation for members on settlement produce, international law and why UNISON supports boycotting Israeli settlement goods with template letters to supermarkets and Members of Parliament for members to use;

B)where UNISON is represented on bodies concerned with pension fund investments, ensure such representatives are briefed on UNISON policy and trained and supported to carry it out;

C)develop guidance for branches on campaigns to stop public service contracts being awarded to companies which also operate contracts inside the occupied territories that are in breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention; and,

D)review relations with UNISON’s partner organisations which accept sponsorship from companies that are complicit in the occupation.

Conference confirms and repeats these instructions.

Conference further recalls the decision of last year’s Conference to strengthen UNISON’s cooperation with the new trade unions and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Israel which oppose the occupation and seek to organise Palestinian and migrant workers. Conference is therefore glad to know that the Arab workers union was registered in Israel April 2010 (replacing the NGO) Sawt Al Amal (Workers Voice). This union seek solidarity affiliations from overseas trades unions so Conference further instructs the National Executive Council:

I)to consider exercising its power under rule D.2.9.7 to affiliate to the Arab Workers Union; and,

II)to circulate material to regions and branches with the request that they consider affiliating too.