The General Council deplores the current horrific loss of life taking place in Gaza and supports the call of the UN and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) for an immediate, negotiated and total cease fire. This should be followed by comprehensive peace talks leading to a sustainable peace in the Middle East. We send our sympathy, solidarity and support to all those affected by the conflict, including the families of the victims.
In the third such attack over a five year period (demonstrating the futility of such attacks in delivering peace), the Israeli armed forces have so far killed over 600 people in Gaza, and the death toll continues to rise. Up to 80% of those killed are women and children – including children playing football on the beach - and many people have been killed going about their daily jobs such as health workers, teachers and journalists. Far more have been injured and over 80,000 have been displaced, and the bombardment of hospitals and other facilities further exacerbates the humanitarian crisis facing the people of Gaza. This amounts to yet more collective punishment of a population suffering the existing blockade, just as Palestinians in the West Bank suffer the occupation of their land and the continuing expansion of illegal settlements which make the prospects for peace ever more bleak.
There can be no military solution to what is at root a political problem. The Israeli action is neither acceptable nor effective. Only a cease fire observed by all – including those firing rockets into Israel - and genuine peace negotiations between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority, can hold out any hope for people in the region. We are appalled that UK-manufactured military equipment may be being used in the attack on Gaza, and join Amnesty International, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and others in calling for the suspension of UK arms sales to Israel.
We are concerned at the bias shown by broadcasters reporting the conflict, as well as the one-sided approach of British Ministers who should be pressing the Israeli Government more forcefully to cease its attacks and enter meaningful peace negotiations.
The General Council reiterates its previous policy on solidarity with trade unionists in the region and especially the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions who have called a three-day general strike in the West Bank in protest at Israel’s actions; on the need for the blockade of Gaza to be lifted; and for a boycott of illegal settlements, settlement goods and those corporations benefiting from the occupation of the West Bank and the construction of the wall. We re-commit ourselves to the objective of a two-state solution, based on justice for the Palestinian people and security for Israel, in line with the policy adopted by the ITUC Congress in May.
We support the demonstration this weekend in London, which our Vice President Lesley Mercer will address.
Wednesday, 23 July 2014
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