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[Boycott - Economic - Europe]

Largest UK Union may join boycott of Israel


Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center
1 June 2007

The largest union in the United Kingdom, UNISON, will vote on a proposal to boycott Israeli products at their annual meeting in June. The union, with 1.4 million members, represents public servants in the United Kingdom.

If the union adopts the proposal to boycott Israeli goods and services, it will be the largest union in the world to have adopted the boycott.

The proposal follows a vote on Wednesday by the UK’s largest union of academics to boycott Israeli academic institutions.

The boycott movement is an attempt by organizations around the world to pressure Israel to end its 40-year old occupation of the Palestinian territories, the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Since the military occupation of Palestinian land began in 1967, over 500,000 Israeli civilians have been transferred onto the occupied land, in contravention of international law and United Nations resolutions.

Boycott campaigns were highly successful in the 1980s in the campaign to end apartheid in South Africa. Organizations, unions, municipalities and national governments boycotted the South African regime to pressure the government to end its policy of apartheid, in which white, black and mixed-race citizens were segregated into separate schools, regions, hospitals and legal systems.

Those organizations engaged in the current boycott campaign, against Israel, have compared the Israeli regime to the South African government under apartheid. Like South Africa, Israel has implemented a full separation between Israelis and the Palestinians living in the occupied territories, which includes the current construction of the Annexation Wall.

The current proposal, up for a vote at the UNISON conference in June, states, in part:

“Conference notes that, during 2006, Israel invaded Lebanon and Gaza, withheld tax revenues form the Palestine Authority and refused dialogue with the elected Authority following the democratic elections of January 2006, re-sealed the borders of Gaza, expanded illegal settlements in the West Bank, and continued the construction of the illegal Apartheid Wall. Israeli policy represents a calculated defiance of international law and the United Nations (UN), with the collusion of the United States (US), United Kingdom (UK) and European Union (EU) which cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority. “Conference repudiates the Blair government's consistent stand in support of the Israeli government throughout the shameful events of 2006, even joining the US in failing to call for a ceasefire amidst worldwide condemnation of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. “UNISON believes the appropriate response is to support the growing international moves towards a union-based campaign of boycott and sanctions against Israeli institutions, in line with the call from over 170 Palestinian civil society organisations including the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions and individual unions and labour collectives.”

Source: http://www.imemc.org/article/48709


UK's largest union to debate boycott of Israel


Ma'an News Agency
2007-01-01


Bethlehem - Ma'an - The United Kingdom's public services union UNISON is going to consider a proposal for imposing a boycott on Israel during its annual conference in mid-June. This comes one day after the University and College Union, representing 120,000 lecturers, voted to urge its members to consider their future relationships and exchanges with Israeli academics.

According to the Israeli daily Haaretz, UNISON representatives have presented a copy of the proposal to the international activities director of Israel's labour union federation Histadrut, Avital Shapira.

According to the proposal, UNISON, which has some 1.4 million members, will urge other British unions to follow its lead and cut off all economic and cultural ties with Israel. UNISON's website cites the motion as: “Unison believes the appropriate response is to support the growing international moves towards a union-based campaign of boycott and sanctions against Israeli institutions, in line with the call from over 170 Palestinian civil society organizations including the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions and individual unions and labor collectives.”

The same motion “notes that, during 2006, Israel invaded Lebanon and Gaza, withheld tax revenues form the Palestine Authority and refused dialogue with the elected Authority following the democratic elections of January 2006, resealed the borders of Gaza, expanded illegal settlements in the West Bank, and continued the construction of the illegal Apartheid Wall.”

The motion also accuses the government of Prime Minister Tony Blair of adopting a “consistent stand in support of the Israeli government throughout the shameful events of 2006, even joining the U.S. in failing to call for a cease-fire amidst worldwide condemnation of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon.”

If accepted, the boycott would likely take the form of a consumer embargo on Israeli-made goods, as well as an instruction to UNISON's pension funds not to invest in Israel.

The motion will be debated during the conference on June 19-22 in Brighton.

Histadrut sources told Haaretz that they believe UNISON, which has great economic influence in Britain, will vote in favour of the motion.

According to Histadrut Chairman Ofer Eini, "this is a dangerous decision, because it could harm numerous workers in Israel and their employers, specifically in organizations that have commercial ties to Britain."

The motion proposers have recognised that Histradut would likely oppose the boycott proposal. In the proposal, they remind delegates that "Histadrut expressed no opposition to the invasions of Lebanon or Gaza, nor to the apartheid wall, throughout 2006 despite its own substantial economic conflicts with the Israeli government."

Therefore, the motion proposers suggest that "appropriate relations with the Histadrut are based on explaining our union's policy and encouraging the Histadrut to condemn the Israeli government's blatant violations of international law."

According to Haaretz, Eini sent a letter Thursday to UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis, calling on him to immediately cancel the proposal. Eini sent a similar letter to Guy Ryder, head of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions.

Ein urged Prentis and Ryder to consider the suffering of Israelis too. "Despite the end of the Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip, the Palestinians have decided to continue the path of bloodshed and violence," wrote Eini in both letters.

"In Sderot and the area surrounding the Gaza Strip live children, women, workers, and pensioners who are suffering on a daily basis due to non-stop and indiscriminate missile fire that cause civilian fatalities and destroy homes and factories," he continued. "The Palestinians' path has turned the residents into refugees in their own country, who are forced to wander to tent camps in safer Israeli cities."

Source: http://www.maannews.net/en/index.php?opr=ShowDetails&ID=22590



Unison Motion To Boycott Israel


Workers Revolutionary Party
2007-01-01


MOVES towards a trade union boycott of Israel are gaining momentum, with UNISON announcing this week that it is to debate a boycott at its Annual Delegate Conference in Brighton later this month.

This follows the UCU university and college lecturers’ union conference voting last week that every one of its branches will discuss a boycott of the Israeli universities.

In April the National Union of Journalists voted in favour of a boycott of Israeli goods and demanded government and UN sanctions against Israel.

Last week a group of 130 British doctors called for a boycott of the Israeli Medical Association and its expulsion from the World Medical Association.

The motion to be heard at the UNISON conference which begins on June 19 reads:


UNISON Motion


Conference notes that, during 2006, Israel invaded Lebanon and Gaza, withheld tax revenues from the Palestine Authority and refused dialogue with the elected Authority following the democratic elections of January 2006, re-sealed the borders of Gaza, expanded illegal settlements in the West Bank and continued the construction of the illegal Apartheid Wall.

Israeli policy represents a calculated defiance of international law and the United Nations (UN), with the collusion of the United States (US), United Kingdom (UK) and European Union (EU) which cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority.

Conference repudiates the Blair government’s consistent stand in support of the Israeli government throughout the shameful events of 2006, even joining the US in failing to call for a ceasefire amidst worldwide condemnation of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon.

UNISON believes the appropriate response is to support the growing international moves towards a union-based campaign of boycott and sanctions against Israeli institutions, in line with the call from over 170 Palestinian civil society organisations including the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions and individual unions and labour collectives.

UNISON welcomes the moves in 2006 towards implementing the campaign of Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions (BDS) including those by the Services, Industrial, Professional and Technical Union (SIPTU) in Ireland, the Ontario region of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), the Congress of South African Unions (COSATU), and the open letter from artists supporting a cultural boycott.

UNISON resolves to participate fully in this growing international campaign by:

1) promoting discussion of these issues at branch and regional level through union publications, and involving the membership in conjunction with regional international committees;

2) continuing cooperation with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign at national, regional and local level;

3) investigating how UNISON members may be involved in trade with Israel or with key companies active in this trade;

4) highlighting to members the scope for consumer boycott of such trade;

5) investigating whether pension funds may have investments in Israel or in key companies trading with Israel, and seeking disinvestment from any such pension links;

6) supporting members who are able to take union-based action in line with Conference policy;

7) organising regional conferences where possible in cooperation with other Trades Union Congress affiliates and with PSC, to discuss the BDS campaign;

8) reviewing progress at the Nation Executive Council quarterly.

Conference recognises that the BDS policy will be opposed by the Israeli trade union federation Histadrut.

Conference notes that the Histadrut expressed no opposition to the invasions of Lebanon or Gaza, nor to the apartheid wall, throughout 2006 despite its own substantial economic conflicts with the Israeli government.

Conference considers that appropriate relations with the Histadrut are based on explaining our union’s policy and encouraging the Histadrut to condemn the Israeli government’s blatant violations of international law.

Conference reaffirms UNISON’s right and desire to act in solidarity with the Palestinian people.

UNISON represents 1.3 million National Health Service and other public service workers.

Israeli politicians have made it very clear how extremely concerned they are about boycott moves following last week’s votes at the UCU conference.

On Sunday Israeli Welfare Minister Isaac Herzog claimed that there is ‘an active Muslim minority joining forces with left-wing elements in the British public.’

Israeli Trade and Industry Minister Eli Yishai described the development as ‘an extremely worrying issue’ and said he would be holding a meeting to discuss the implication of a boycott on Israeli industry and trade agreements.

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni announced that she had called for a ministerial meeting to weigh Israel’s response.

She said: ‘Even if we are dealing with marginal academic elements and ideas that repeat themselves, Israel must act decisively.’

Meanwhile, Israel is mobilising its Zionist supporters internationally.

Alan Dershowitz, professor of law at Harvard University, has threatened that he will personally bring legal and financial ruin to any UK academic supporting a boycott of Israeli academe.

Dershowitz, who defended O J Simpson against the charge that he murdered his wife, revealed his intention prior to the University and College Union’s annual conference in Bournemouth last month.

Dershowitz said he would organise a campaign to ruin British academics supporting the boycott by imposing legal, economic and academic measures against them.

He claimed: ‘I guarantee that we will obtain legislation dealing with this issue, imposing sanctions that will devastate and bankrupt those who seek to impose bankruptcy on Israeli academics.’

Dershowitz said he has already begun working with a leading British barrister, whom he declined to name, to find legal avenues to challenge a boycott.

He said he would pressure major American financial institutions to stop doing business with UK universities.

Dershowitz said he would urge ‘at least 1,000’ US academics to accept honorary posts at Israeli universities and declare themselves Israelis – thus becoming the de facto targets of a boycott.

He claimed a boycott would ‘mark the end of British academics’ reputation as serious scholars’.

Source: http://www.wrp.org.uk/news/2215


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