British trade unions vote for targetted boycott of goods from Israel

In an historic decision yesterday,  Britain’s trade unions voted to begin a targetted boycott of goods from Israel's illegal settlements, to step up  the pressure "for an end to the occupation of Palestinian territories."   The motion was passed at the 2009  TUC Annual Congress in Liverpool yesterday, by unions representing  6.5 million workers across the UK.
Hugh Lanning, chair of the  Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said the motion came about "following outrage at Israel’s brutal war on Gaza".

The TUC statement condemned both the Israeli January offensive and the Hamas rocket attacks on Israeli citizens.

Brendan Barber, TUC general secretary said: "Both were unacceptable, and both have led to the UN investigation concluding that war crimes may have been committed. The blockade of Gaza, which continues to this day, is intolerable collective punishment.

He said: "This is not a call for a general boycott of Israeli goods and services, which would hit ordinary Palestinian and Israeli workers but targeted, consumer-led sanctions directed at businesses based in, and sustaining, the illegal settlements."

The motion additionally calls for  the TUC General Council to put pressure on the British government to end all  arms trading with Israel and support moves to suspend  the EU-Israel trade agreement. Unions are also encouraged to disinvest from  companies which profit from Israel’s illegal 42-year occupation of Gaza and the West  Bank. 

It asks the British government to make appropriate representations to the international community to secure lasting peace through a negotiated settlement based on "justice for the Palestinians and on security for Israel."

The news has been welcomed by  human rights organisations and charities working in the region but has been totally rebutted by the Israeli government.

The Israeli Ambassador  to London, Ron Prosor, said in a statement:

"The TUC's leaders should hang their heads in shame at this reckless call for a boycott. They have betrayed their own constituency by allowing the TUC to be hijacked as a political tool for extremists. This one sided approach subjects the State of Israel to a despicable double standard not experienced by any other nation, including dictatorships such as Libya, which recently celebrated the return of a convicted mass murderer. 

"The boycott statement fails to acknowledge Israel's obligation to protect its citizens from terror and issues no calls on Gaza's rulers or the Arab world to address Israel's legitimate security concerns. The statement's condemnation of rocket attacks is nothing but flimsy lip-service, and does not in any way sufficiently address the suffering of Israel's citizens, in the face of years of terror from thousands of Hamas missiles. 

"Any boycott will inflict harm and hardship on workers throughout Israel, both Jew and Arab alike. Boycotts would not promote progress or understanding, but would be a slap in the face to all those who sincerely campaign for peace.

"Both Prime Minister Brown and Foreign Secretary Miliband have condemned boycotts of the State of Israel. We will continue to strive to prevent such motions, in cooperation with Israel's friends within the TUC, who recognise the absurdity of this motion."

Source: TUC/Israeli Embassy

Share this story