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The TUC stands in solidarity with the Palestinian people

Published date
Today, on this UN Day of International Solidarity with the Palestinian People, the TUC is standing side by side with our sisters and brothers in their struggle for peace, justice, equality and an end to the illegal occupation of their land.

Supporting Palestinian rights is a priority for the TUC.  

The ITUC rates Palestine as one of the worst countries in the world for workers, with no guarantee of rights due to a breakdown in the rule of law.  

Our work and policies in support of Palestinian rights and decent work are set out in an evidence-based report, ‘Justice for Palestine’ published today.   

The TUC calls on the UK government to: 

  • publicly support ending the illegal military occupation of Palestine; 

  • take firm action to ensure annexation does not go ahead; 

  • speak out in support of protecting all Palestinian human rights, including the right to collective self-determination and the right of refugees to return; 

  • recognise the State of Palestine and support genuine efforts towards a comprehensive, just and lasting peace based on a two-state solution, with Palestinians and Israelis participating as equals in talks. 

Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land has lasted for over 50 years, in violation of international law.  

The human rights situation “deteriorates day-by-day”, according to the UN’s Special Rapporteur. Human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT)  include labour exploitation, home demolitions, forcible population transfer, excessive use of force and torture, and restrictions on freedom of movement.  

In the first six months of 2020, 21 Palestinians were killed by Israeli Occupying Forces (IOF) with at least half being shot.  

The nation-state law, passed by Israel’s Knesset in 2018 enshrines discrimination, and the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has called on Israel to repeal the law or bring it into line with the relevant Covenant.  

Israel has been allowed to act with impunity for decades, and it now threatening to annex more Palestinian land.  

Despite claims by outgoing President Trump and others that annexation is off the table as part of Israel’s agreement with the United Arab Emirates, Prime Minister Netanyahu has stated that “There is no change in my plan to apply sovereignty, our sovereignty, in Judea and Samaria, in full coordination with the US. I’m committed to it, this hasn’t changed… This issue remains on the table”.  

But arguably, annexation is happening on the ground anyway with, for example, Israel’s construction of the 700km-plus wall mainly built on Palestinian land.  

We’ve written to the UK government stating our concerns about the annexation threat and called on it to publicly state that annexation would be met with serious consequences.  

The occupation has suffocated the Palestinian economy.  

According to the ILO, the occupation, settlements and restrictions such as checkpoints, roadblocks, the wall, metal gates, being unable to access natural resources and infrastructure “severely affect Palestinians’… right to non-discrimination, with regard to pursuing an adequate standard of living and decent work”.  

The economy in Gaza, blockaded by air, sea and land for over a decade is near collapse. Poverty rates in Gaza are over 50 per cent.  

Young Palestinian women face particularly bleak employment prospects, with 66 per cent out of the labour force in quarter two (April-June) of 2020.  

Despite business having an obligation to respect human rights under the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, many are complicit and profit from the occupation and violations of Palestinian human rights – with some of these listed in the UN’s database.  

This complicity must end. 

Faced with little alternative, around 130,000 Palestinians work in the illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, and in Israel, in exploitative conditions characterised by discrimination, low pay, insecurity, poor health and safety and few rights at work (see report for more details).  

It’s good to hear that the Israeli government will finally make improvements to the exploitative permit system for construction workers in Israel, so that they will receive permits directly, rather than through their employer.  

This looks like a step forward and should establish a direct relationship between workers and employers, rather than via profiteering labour brokers - but enforcement will be vital.  

We're still waiting for more information about this policy change, but we'd want to see all workers treated fairly and have their rights respected.  

The Covid-19 pandemic has added further hardship and uncertainty for Palestinian workers and their families.  

Despite a tripartite agreement being signed with the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU), 52 per cent of workers did not receive their salary/wages during the lockdown period. The PGFTU has been supporting incomes and providing food aid.  

Meanwhile, the illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian territory continue to expand – a move recently jointly condemned by the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain as being in violation of international law and imperilling the viability of a two-state solution. Around 600,000 Israeli settlers now live in the occupied West Bank, with about one-third in East Jerusalem, in approximately 250 settlements.  

The extensive appropriation of land and the appropriation and destruction of property required to build and expand settlements breaches international humanitarian law. 

This injustice cannot continue. 

In solidarity with Palestinian people, the TUC supports a ban on trade with the illegal settlements, an end to arms trading with Israel, and suspension of the UK-Israel Trade and Partnership Agreement until Palestinian rights are respected.  

We encourage affiliates, employers and pension funds to disinvest from, and boycott the goods of, companies who profit from illegal settlements, the occupation and the construction of the wall. 

We stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people. 

For more information about the TUC’s policies and work on Palestine see:  

Our report

Our Executive summary

Our solidarity message

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