Historic TUC vote on Israel boycott

17 September 2009

The boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel continues to gather momentum after receiving a historic vote of support from the British trade union movement.

On Thursday 17 September, in a landmark move, the British Trade Union movement voted to support Palestinian civil society’s BDS call.  A motion was passed at the annual Trade Union Congress by unions representing 6.5 million workers in the UK support BDS tactics against Israel until it complies with international law.
Yasmin Khan, senior campaigns officer at War on Want, said: "Over the last 60 years Israel has continuously acted in defiance of UN resolutions, international law and global outrage. Yet the international community has failed to act to stop Israel's crimes against the Palestinian people. Instead the British government amongst others has rewarded Israeli aggression with financial, military and diplomatic support. "The trade union movement has taken a courageous decision today to stand up against this injustice, just like it stood up to racist South Africa in the anti-apartheid movement.
"This is a wake up call to Downing Street that there can be no more business as usual with Israel. A ban on trade with illegal settlements and a two-way arms embargo with Israel must be implemented immediately."
Boycott, divestment and sanctions were widely used in the anti-apartheid movement. Palestinian civil society in 2005 launched its call for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel, with the initial endorsement of over 170 Palestinian organisations including War on Want’s partners Stop the Wall. War on Want works closely with the Palestinian Boycott National Committee and has supported the BDS call since its inception.
War on Want will be speaking at a UK national gathering on BDS on 2-4 October in Northumberland.
What is boycott, divestment and sanctions?

  • Boycotts can be consumer, sporting, cultural and academic. The primary target in the UK has been the boycott of consumer goods produced in Israel. With a particular focus on fresh produce grown in Israel's illegal West Bank settlements. British supermarkets such as Tesco and Sainsbury's continue to sell settlement produce, despite doubts over the legal status of these products.
  • Divestment means targeting corporations which are complicit in the occupation and ensuring universities, pensions or other public money is not invested in such companies. War on Want in 2006 published its groundbreaking report Profiting from the Occupation, which called for divestment from companies profiting from the illegal occupation of Palestinian land.
  • Sanctions are also an essential part of demonstrating disapproval for a country's actions. War on Want is currently demanding the UK government impose the sanction of an arms embargo with Israel and suspend the EU-Israel Association Agreement, which gives Israel preferential trade access to European markets.


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