The Northern Ireland Public Service Alliance (NIPSA) has unanimously passed five motions on Palestinian solidarity at its 2007 annual delegate conference.
The biggest union in Northern Ireland, with over 44,000 members from across the Northern Irish civil and public services and voluntary sector, sent a strong message to Apartheid Israel by passing motions which included a commitment to boycott and divestment and condemnation of the occupation. The five motions were passed with no opposing speakers.
The conference, held between the 30th of May and the 1st of June, called on union members to support a boycott of Israeli goods, comparing the policies of the Israeli government to those of Apartheid South Africa. The NIPSA General Council, the unionâs governing body, has now been instructed to support divestment from Israel companies. The General Council will also lobby the British and Irish governments to challenge apartheid Israelâs treatment of the Palestinian people, after the conference said these governments had failed in their obligations to enforce international law.
The call for the boycott came from NIPSAâs own leadership, which along with three other branches, proposed the motion.
The conference also condemned Israelâs policy of ethnic clensing, the illegal construction of the Apartheid wall, confiscation of Palestinian land, the âenforced bankruptcyâ of the Palestinian Authority, and the âhorrendous military assaultsâ on the people of Gaza amongst other things. Also condemned was the punishment and blackmail of the Palestinian people by the USA and Europe following the democratic election of Hamas.
One motion praised NIPSAâs support of the establishment of Trade Union Friends of Palestine, and organization formed by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions to promote its policy of âcampaigning in solidarity with the Palestinian people.â Another pledged NIPSAâs support for the establishment in Northern Ireland of a Enough solidarity campaign â coalition of those who want to speak out against Israeli Apartheid and support the Palestinians in their struggle â including trade unions, churches, political parties , human rights groups and other NGOs.
Eamonn McMahon from Trade Union Friends of Palestine said after the conference: ‘Given that it is such a broad-based trade union, representative of all sections of the working population, the passing of these five motions is of great significance and indicates the strength of public opinion here in support of the rights of the people of Palestine.’
FULL TEXT OF THE MOTIONS
Motion No 63 (Branch 15)
Conference welcomes the Mecca Agreement between Fatah and Hamas to establish a National Unity Government representing the broadest interests of the Palestinian people. Conference condemns however, the collective punishment and blackmail of the Palestinian people by both the USA and EU who cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority amounting to around $1 billion a year
following the victory of Hamas in the elections held on 2006. Conference also condemns Israel for its refusal to hand over revenue it collects on behalf of the Authority amounting to around $60 million per month. This combined with an horrendous military assault by the EDF has been catastrophic for the Palestinian people. It is therefore outrageous that the Palestinian people should be forced to recognise as legitimate, the state of Israel as it is currently constituted, not least because it exists in defiance of numerous UN Resolutions that condemn the illegal occupation and settlement of Palestinian territory. Conference recognises that the policy of the Israeli Government is akin to that practiced under Apartheid regime in South Africa and requires the same response that the union movement gave then. Accordingly conference calls on the General Council to add its public support to the campaign for the Boycott of Israeli Goods and to investigate the investments held by the union to determine whether or not these are contributing to the oppression of the Palestinian people.
Motion No 64 (Branch 27)
Conference is outraged at the continued human rights abuses being suffered by the Palestinian people. Conference recognises there are many, many atrocities that have been and are continuing to be carried out by Israel on Palestine including:
â¢ The continued occupation & destruction of Palestinian lands;
â¢ The continuing mass arrests, torture & extra-judicial killings;
â¢ The horrific assaults on the population of Gaza;
â¢ The illegal destruction of civilian infra-structure;
â¢ The enforced bankruptcy of the Palestinian Authority;
â¢ The ethnic cleansing making life for Palestinians unbearable;
â¢ The building of illegal Israeli settlements in the West bank & East Jerusalem;
â¢ The imposition of collective punishment.
Conference instructs the General Council:
1. To continue its support and solidarity for the Palestinian people;
2. To support ICTU policy on the situation in Palestine;
3. To continue active participation in the Trade Union Friends of Palestine grouping;
4. To support the âEnough Coalitionâ campaign;
5. To support divestment from Israeli companies;
6. To support a boycott of Israeli goods and services;
7. To lobby the British and Irish governments to challenge the activities of
the Israeli government on the Palestinian people.
Motion No 125 (Branch 711)
This conference is outraged at the continued human rights abuses and war crimes being inflicted upon the Palestinian people by the Israeli government. We particularly note the following:
– the continued occupation and destruction of Palestinian lands and Palestinian homes in breach of the Geneva Convention and numerous United Nations resolutions
– the continuation of mass arrests, of torture and of extra-judicial killings
– the horrific assaults on the population of Gaza
– the deliberate and illegal destruction of civilian infra-structure including electricity and water supplies
– the policy of ethnic cleansing
– the continued building of illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem
– the continued building of the Apartheid Wall in defiance of the International Court of Justice in the Hague creating a series of âBantustansâ in the West Bank.
Conference also notes that the British and Irish Governments and the European Union have failed in their obligations under International law â in terms of the Geneva Convention and the International Court â to challenge the activities of the Israeli Government. We are appalled at the appeasement policy of âconstructive engagementâ with the Israeli Government including continuing to grant them preferential trading rights under Article 2 of the Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreement. We note that the European Union is formally obligated under the human rights clause in Article 2 to suspend the trading privileges if Israel is in breach of human rights.
Conference therefore authorises General Council to undertake the following:
1) To actively and vigorously promote a policy of divestment from Israelâs companies, recognising that this is one of the most effective ways to ensure that the Israeli Government is made aware of the extent of opposition to its crimes against humanity. General Council will rigorously apply a policy of ethical investment in terms of pension fund holdings and seek to ensure that investments are therefore withheld from Israeli companies as well as companies such as Catepillar and Irish Cement Roadholdings that directly support the Israeli occupation and destruction of Palestinian land.
2) To actively and vigorously promote a boycott of Israeli goods and services similar to the trade union boycott of South African goods during the era of apartheid.
3) To make direct representations to the European Council of Minister to demand the ending of the preferential trading status employed by Israel under the Euro-Med Agreement. To strongly encourage the ICTU and the European TUC to vigorously campaign to end this agreement.
Motion No 31 (General Council)
Conference approves NIPSAâs affiliation to the Trade Union Friends of Palestine.
Motion No 32 (To be moved by Branch 711)
This conference commends the NI Committee of ICTU, the NIPSA General Council and the NIPSA Global Solidarity Committee for the active and leading role they have taken in supporting the formation of the Trade Union Friends of Palestine Group. This group has been established to promote the ICTU policy of campaigning in solidarity with the Palestinian people. Conference therefore endorses NIPSA affiliation to the Trade Union Friends of Palestine and calls upon all NIPSA branches to work closely with TUFP in support of its solidarity activities.