TUC passes motion opposing Israel’s annexation plans

Elliot Chappell

TUC Congress 2020 has passed a motion opposing Israel’s annexation plans, describing the move by the country as “illegal” and a “significant step in the creation of a system of apartheid”.

Delegates at the annual conference, currently taking place online, voted in favour of the motion put forward by Unite the Union this afternoon, which objected to proposals made by Benjamin Netanyahu’s government earlier this year.

The motion, debated in the international section of the conference, committed the TUC to “support and play an active role in the Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s (PSC) actions to build a broad coalition against the proposed Israeli annexation”.

Commenting on the passing of the motion today, PSC director Ben Jamal said: “We welcome this motion which reaffirms the strong support across the UK trade union movement for the rights of Palestinians.

“By rightfully identifying that Israel is practicing a system of apartheid, the consequences become clear: There can be no normalised relations with any state practicing apartheid unless one is to become a reinforcing part of the system. We applaud the TUC for calling clearly for sanctions.”

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said earlier this year that the country would “apply sovereignty” to up to 30% of the West Bank, covering Israeli settlements and the agricultural lands of the Jordan Valley, from July 1st.

These proposals followed an earlier intervention by US President Donald Trump in January, in which he unveiled a 181-page document with his plans for the region. The then Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn slammed the “peace plan” at the time.

Labour’s Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy later called on the UK government to ban the importing of goods from illegal settlements in the West Bank if the Israeli government pressed ahead with annexation plans.

But director of We Believe in Israel Luke Akehurst has criticised the TUC for backing a motion opposing plans that are “no longer being actively pursued” following an agreement reached by the United Arab Emirates and Israel in August.

Commenting today, Akehurst said: “It is disappointing that the TUC general council has issued a statement that focuses excessively on proposals from earlier this year for annexation/extension of sovereignty in the West Bank which are no longer being actively pursued following the Israeli peace deal with the UAE.

“The strategic relationship between Israel and the Arab world is changing for the better in an unprecedented and dramatic way with the peace deals with first UAE and now Bahrain.

“The TUC’s statement oddly says nothing about this. With its odd focus on a proposal that is off the agenda, and no mention of the key recent development, the statement reads as though the TUC does not follow events in the region very closely.”

UAE and Israel signed an agreement to establish full diplomatic ties in a Washington-brokered deal under which Israel would “suspend” its annexation of parts of the Palestinian territories.

Supporters of today’s motion have highlighted comments made since by Netanyahu. He said in a statement shortly afterwards: “There is no change to my plan to extend sovereignty, our sovereignty in Judea and Samaria, in full coordination with the US.”

The motion passed by the TUC today follows a statement issued jointly by charities, trade unions, religious groups, and civil society organisations speaking out against the annexation plans for Palestine.

In the letter, trade unions Unite, UNISON, GMB, ASLEF and the NEU joined with groups such as the PSC and War on Want to demand accountability and responsibility from the Israeli government over the annexation plans.

Below is the full text of the motion passed by the TUC today.

Congress stands united in its full opposition to the Israeli government’s declared intention to annex great swathes of the West Bank, a move that is illegal under international law and that makes clear there is no intent on the part of the Israeli government to end the occupation and recognise the Palestinian people’s right to self determination. It will be another significant step in the creation of a system of apartheid.

For too long the international community has stood idly by as the Israeli state has been allowed to carry out its crimes and this cannot be tolerated or accepted any longer. Decisive action is now urgently needed in relation to Israel’s illegal actions against the Palestinians.

Congress therefore resolves to:

  1. Fully support and play an active role in the Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s actions to build a broad coalition against the proposed Israeli annexation and to urge all affiliates to do likewise;
  2. Send a letter to the prime minister demanding that the UK take firm and decisive measures, including sanctions, to ensure that Israel stops or reverses the illegal annexation, ends the occupation of the West Bank and blockade of Gaza, and respects the right of Palestinian refugees to return; and
  3. Communicate its position to all other national trade union centres in the International and European Trade Union Confederations and urge them to join the international campaign to stop annexation and end apartheid.

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