We Need to Talk About Palestine

Back to all Motions

2023 National Delegate Conference
20 February 2023
Carried as Amended

Conference welcomes the comprehensive Amnesty International report, Israel’s Apartheid against Palestinians: Cruel System of Domination and Crime against Humanity, which sets out how massive seizures of Palestinian land and property, unlawful killings, forcible transfer, drastic movement restrictions, and the denial of nationality and citizenship to Palestinians are all components of a system which amounts to apartheid under international law. This system is maintained by violations which Amnesty International found to constitute apartheid as a crime against humanity, as defined in the Rome Statute and Apartheid Convention. This report also reinforces the findings of apartheid by the Israeli Human Rights organisation B’Tselem.

Conference supports Amnesty’s call on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to consider the crime of apartheid in its current investigation in the OPT and its call on all states to exercise universal jurisdiction to bring perpetrators of apartheid crimes to justice.

The current threat to formally annex the West Bank follows many years of ‘de facto’ annexation, during which the Israeli government has continued to colonise Palestinian land by expanding the illegal settlements, restricting access to land and natural resources and displacing the Palestinian population.

Conference notes that the demolition of Palestinian homes and property, and the building of settlements continues at an unprecedented rate. Settlements are illegal under international law, contribute to de facto annexation and render unviable any Palestinian state alongside Israel.

Conference believes that corporations that do business in and with the settlements are contributing to a grave violation of international law, and welcomes the United Nations Human Rights Council database, listing some of the business enterprises involved in or with the illegal settlements. Conference calls on the United Nations to expand the database to include all corporations involved in and with the settlements and the violation of Palestinian human rights, and for the UK government to ensure that all corporate enterprises regulated by them cease doing business with the Israeli settlements or face sanction.

Conference is deeply concerned by the Conservative government’s plans to introduce new laws to restrict calls for boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) and stop public institutions from imposing their own approach or views about international relations, through preventing BDS campaigns against foreign countries and those who trade with them”. This policy will undermine local democracy, by restricting the ability of public bodies, including local government, to purchase, procure and invest ethically, in the interest of workers and the communities they represent.

Conference notes that UNISON was one of the first trade unions in Europe to respond to the call from Palestinian civil society, including trade unions, by passing a BDS policy, and reaffirms its support for BDS as a practical way to force the Israeli government to end the occupation and colonisation of Palestinian land, dismantle the Wall, recognise the fundamental rights of Palestinians in Israel and the occupied territory and the right of refugees to return.

Conference calls on the National Executive Council to:

1)Encourage distribution of and discussion on the new Guide for UNISON activists ‘Talking about Palestinian Rights’;

2)Support the call for action on apartheid to the International Criminal Court;

3)Continue to oppose the annexation of Palestinian land by the government of Israel;

4)Work with the European Trade Union Network for Justice for Palestine to call for the United Nations Human Rights Council database to be expanded to all business enterprises involved in the settlements, and for states to take measures to end corporate complicity with the illegal settlements;

5)Support branches to campaign for Local Government Pension funds to engage with the companies they invest in and to demand they end their involvement in the occupied Palestinian territory and in the violation of Palestinian human rights;

6)Defend the right of public bodies to purchase, procure and invest ethically, including by using BDS in support of Palestinian rights;

7)Continue supporting BDS to demand an end to the occupation and hold the Israeli government accountable for its violations of Palestinian rights and of international law.