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National Delegate Conference Bournemouth 19-22 June 2012

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Organise to end apartheid in Palestine

Sarah Collins
Sarah Collins

In Nov 2011, the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, created by a large group of citizens involved in the promotion of peace and justice in the Middle East, found that Israel subjects the Palestinian people to an institutionalised regime of domination, amounting to apartheid as defined by international law.

Now UNISON has agreed a response equivalent to the scale of our response on South Africa. Conference directed our union to make members aware of this apartheid and to get their active support to begin to right this longstanding injustice.

UNISON will also use its organised strength to stop pension funds from investing in Apartheid and to ensure public sector contracts do not go to firms helping the occupation.

In her maiden speech, young member, Sarah Collins of East Ayrshire Branch told Conference that even as we celebrate the beginning of the end of apartheid in South Africa, there is evidence of growing apartheid in Palestine.

"Palestine is still encircled by unlawful occupation, the apartheid wall divides communities from their lands and work and splits families apart" said Sarah.

She welcomed UNISON's policy of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) and slammed the Israeli offensive against groups and organisations which criticise government policy with the enactment of the Boycott Law, "the latest in a series of violations of international law which have occurred since the foundation of the State of Israel".

Sarah also deplored the imprisonment in Israel of five British Women for their part in the Welcome to Palestine initiative to highlight the Israeli blockade of the West Bank; and paid tribute to the Palestinian detainees who have been on hunger strike to demand basic rights to family visits and education, an end to isolation and an end to administrative detention.

She pointed to the top European athletes who have joined growing international calls on Israel to end its abuse of human rights.

"Conference, it's up to us to continue our BDS strategy just as we did against apartheid in South Africa," said Sarah, "Whatever the challenges we face at home, we cannot forget our international responsibilities."






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