UNISON’s national delegate conference, which met in the week of June 15th, passed a very strong emergency motion in the wake of Israel’s murderous attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla.
Conference wasn’t having any of Israel’s justifications, the pretence that its navy commandos were the subject of ‘an attempted lynching’ by the human rights and aid activists. It accused Israel of ‘brazenly lying’. You can’t get much stronger than that!
And even better Conference voted overwhelmingly to suspend relations with Histadrut , following on strong motions on Histadrut which were passed at both the Scottish and Irish TUCs as well as a motion to cut all links with Histadrut by the Universities & Colleges Union (UCU).
Histadrut once again, after its Gaza debacle, again decided to issue a statement giving full support to Israel’s massacre on the Mavi Marmara. It was a particularly disgusting statement. It purported to be ‘aware of the ongoing suffering of the inhabitants of Gaza’ whilst omitting to say it has never even lifted its little finger to relieve this suffering.
And then on cue, it gave full support to Netanyahu, Lieberman and Barak’s attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla by criticising not the murderers but the murdered:
‘The conduct of the flotilla’s organisers and their methods of action utterly contradict the cooperation and the responsibility to achieve the goal we all aspire to attain – effective humanitarian assistance for the residents of Gaza.’
The breathtaking hypocrisy of this statement – when the Histadrut has done nothing to relieve the blockade itself nor to support those in Israel who have tried to do so, and its use of an agreement with the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions last year, whereby it agreed to return a tiny fraction of monies stolen from Palestinian workers to PGFTU – sealed its fate.
Of course Unison has now gone beyond that which Palestine Solidarity Campaign and their trade union organiser, Bernard Regan approve of. Regan believes the Histadrut is a changed organisation and a genuine trade union. The fact that it evinces not a squeak of solidarity with the oppressed is neither her nor there.
Coming on top of the Boycott of Israeli ships by dockers on the West coast of American, Sweden and Norway, it demonstrates that Boycott is once again, thanks to the Israeli government, right on track again.
Conference condemns the attack by the Israeli army and navy on the Gaza Freedom flotilla, which was in international waters 90 miles off the coast of Gaza, in which nine people were reportedly killed. We note that these boats were carrying much-needed humanitarian aid for the people of Gaza. We repeat the demand of Conference 2009 for an end to the Israeli blockade of Gaza, which has been in place since 2007.
We note that the passengers on the boats were civilians, including a Nobel Peace Prize winner, a holocaust survivor, parliamentarians, activists, artists and other non-combatants. Israel’s attack, in international waters, appears to be an act of piracy. We call for an independent international enquiry into the circumstances of this attack, and for the criminal prosecution of those committing and ordering these illegal acts.
We support the strong condemnations of Israel issued by Governments around the world, as well as those statements by trade unions, including the TUC and the ITUC.
Conference reaffirms the demands of last years conference and call for an immediate end to all UK arms sales to Israel, and for recognition of the results of the 2006 Palestine election.
We call for the immediate release of all those detained by Israel during this attack, and for the return of all their seized property.
We note that a further aid boat, the MV Rachel Corrie, which was delayed as a result of an Israeli sabotage attempt, is currently sailing to Gaza, and we support the demand of the Irish government that Israel allow it safe passage to Gaza.
In an attempt to justify this attack, Israel has been brazenly lying, attempting to define it as an attempted lynch of its troops by passengers on the boats. This is a further sign that Israel does not respond to words of condemnation; only action will have any effect.
Conference reaffirms the support of Conference 2009 for an economic cultural and sporting boycott of Israel, and call on Unison to join the scores of unions around the world who have endorsed the Palestinian United Call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel. Further to that as an immediate sanction for the illegal attack on the Flotilla we call on the Government to expel the Israeli ambassador.
Conference condemns the Histadrut’s statement of 31st May which supports uncritically, the Israeli Government’s action against the Flotilla and agrees to suspend our relations with the Histadrut pending the outcome of our review of our relations as previously agreed by National Delegate Conference.