Palestine: Annexation has not gone away

By Tony Burke, Unite and Labour & Palestine

The TUC has in the past two weeks has agreed a comprehensive policy on Palestine in regard to the situation in Palestine.

UK unions have always stood with those facing oppression and discrimination and who are fighting in defence of workers and human rights.

We stood with workers in South Africa in the fight against apartheid. We are standing with workers in Colombia where they are struggling to stop the murders and killings of trade unionists and human rights defenders.

And we have stood with Cuba as they fought for the right for their own future – free from aggression and interference.

And today we are standing with workers in Turkey, Syria, Belarus and many other countries as they fight for the same rights.

In recent years the TUC and many affiliated unions have stepped up solidarity work with the Palestinians – and now, with the threat of annexation of large swathes of Palestinian lands by the Israeli state, we must again step up our efforts.

For decades the Israeli state has occupied Palestinian lands and engaged in massive discrimination against the Palestinian people.

Gaza has been under an inhumane blockade for over 10 years and has been regularly bombed and attacked.

In East Jerusalem the Palestinian population is subject to extreme restrictions concerning where they can go to work and where they can live, and their houses are being systematically bulldozed, demolished and taken over.

In the West Bank the Israeli state continues to support the growth and expansion of illegal settlements in an attempt to effectively build Palestine out of existence.

And now the Israeli government has gone a massive step further and laid out its plans to annex huge swathes of Palestine and to officially integrate the area into Israel.

It is has been said that Israel is ‘the only real democracy in the Middle East’ – but can anyone remember the last time that the leader of a democracy went into an general election and openly campaigned with a pledge to actually take over the territory of another country?

So it is absolutely essentially that we make clear our total opposition this move by Israel.

Unions are now committed to join with other progressive forces that are pledged to resist the annexation and that we will work with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and wider civil society towards this goal.

The British government must make it clear that sanctions will follow if this goes ahead, and we must call on the international community to do the same.

Likewise, we will be working with unions internationally to build a mass movement that demands an end to the annexation plans and an end to the occupation and repression.

And let us be clear that the plans for annexation have not been dropped as part of Trump’s so-called ‘deal of the century’ between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

Netanyahu says the annexation is postponed not abandoned it is clear the delay is more to to do with Israeli politics and the pending US presidential election, rather than a U-turn by the Israeli government.

If Trump loses the US election in November, Israel may push ahead with the annexation and try to present Biden with a fait accompli so he cannot reverse the annexation.

Annexation has not gone away, and we have no choice for unions and Labour to step up our support and solidarity with the Palestinian people.