UK trade unions sign joint statement against Israeli annexation plans

Andrew Kersley

Several UK trade unions have joined over 20 charities, religious groups and civil society organisations to sign a joint statement against Israel’s annexation plans as they go “against the very foundations of international law”.

Unite, UNISON, GMB, ASLEF and the NEU have come together with groups such as the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and War on Want to demand accountability and responsibility from the Israeli government.

Their statement mirrors a recent report by UN special rapporteur professor Michael Lynk, which called on the international community to “take all measures necessary to ensure the respect by Israel of its duty under international law”.

Commenting on the joint statement released this morning, UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “The annexation of Palestinian land is a gross violation of international law.

“Governments, businesses and public bodies all have a responsibility to ensure that none of their purchasing, procurement or investment decisions contribute to the violation of Palestinian human rights.”

The Israeli government this year announced plans to formally annex up to 30% of Palestinian land in the West Bank, which has been under military occupation since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.

The recent normalisation of relations between the UAE and Israel led many to believe Benjamin Netanyahu had abandoned his annexation policy, but immediately after the deal was struck he said there would be “no change” to his plans.

Mick Whelan, ASLEF general secretary, added: “Israel’s illegal settlement expansion and de facto annexation of Palestinian territory is an affront to international law that must not go unchallenged.

“We all have a duty to preserve international law, and hold Israel accountable for its blatant violations using all means available to us. It is our ethical duty to stand in solidarity with Palestinians, and ensure our public investments are not contributing to Israel’s violation of their rights.”

Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy has announced that the UK Labour Party would support a ban on importing West Bank goods if Israel pursued its controversial annexation plans in the region.

Below is the full text of the statement along with a full list of signatories

As charities, trade unions, religious groups, and civil society organisations, we urgently call on public bodies to uphold their ethical and legal responsibilities to ensure human rights and international law are respected. As the Israeli government moves towards illegally annexing additional Palestinian land, the necessity for accountability and collective responsibility in maintaining an international rules-based system of law becomes paramount. The actions of the Israeli government are not only an attack on the rights and futures of Palestinians but also against the very foundations of international law.

Official annexation would culminate years of gradual de facto annexation – which has been taking place through the appropriation of land, forcible displacement of Palestinians, and the transfer of an Israeli settler population to the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

We echo UN Special Rapporteur, Professor Michael Lynk, in calling on the international community to ensure there is a cost to defying international law in the context of settlement expansion. This mirrors Palestinian civil society’s calls for effective measures to stop annexation and Israel’s ongoing infringements on their human rights.

Local authorities, churches, local government pensions schemes, universities, and businesses all have a clear responsibility to ensure they are not aiding or sustaining violations of international law. We call on all such bodies and organisations to guarantee they are not complicit in further entrenching Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian people, and that their practices of investment and procurement reflect their ethical and legal responsibilities to uphold an international system of law.

Signed:

Archbishop of Wales, The Most Rev’d John D E Davies
Amos Trust
Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen
Bakers, Food and Allied Workers’ Union
Bishop of Bangor, The Right Rev’d Andy John
Bishop of St Davids, The Right Rev’d Dr Joanna Penberthy
Campaign Against the Arms Trade
Communication Workers Union
Fire Brigades Union
GMB Union
Iona Community
Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions
UK Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights
Muslim Association of Britain
National Education Union
Palestine Solidarity Campaign UK
Public and Commercial Services Union
National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers
Sabeel-Kairos
Scottish Palestinian Forum
Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association
University and College Union
UNISON
Unite the Union
War on Want

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