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National Delegate Conference 16-19 June 2008

Palestine: Boycott and review of relationship with Histadrut

Mike Kirby
Mike Kirby

UNISON took a step further in its support for a sovereign independent and democratic Palestinian State when it threw its weight behind a boycott of goods from the illegal Israeli settlements, urging the government to support a ban.

UNISON will also review its relationship with Histadrut.

Supporting the wide ranging composite, Scottish Regional Delegate, Mike Kirby, spoke of his visit to the Occupied Territories and Israel in March, as part of an STUC delegation which engaged with both communities.

He described the conditions of Palestinians living under occupation with checkpoints and the separation wall cutting villages in half and away from their agricultural land; an occupation enforced by settlements, some with tens of thousands of Jewish immigrants and a network of roads barred to Palestinians.

An occupation described by one Palestinian Minister as " not a classic occupation but one of trying to exclude us or remove us from our land."

Until recently the Scottish region had supported dialogue between Palestinian trade unions and the Histadrut. However, recent actions by Histadrut has compelled a review and Mike called for a programme of boycott and disinvestment and a review of relations with Histadrut.

"Conference, I believe in dialogue with all parties. History in Northern Ireland illustrates the necessity.The potential for capacity building and joint vocational training with PGFTU and Histadrut is inspiring."

"However, when Histadrut condones the excess of 'Operation Cast Lead" in Gaza, when Histradut is accused of organising in the illegal settlements, we must review our relations and contracts."

Opponents of this strategy expressed concerns that a boycott could lead to antisemitism across this country. However, the NEC speaker assured that UNISON will have no truck with any form of racist or anti-semitic action and will implement the programme of Boycott Disinvestment and Sanctions (BDS) and the review of the relationship with Histadrut in a careful step by step manner.