The South African Federation of Trade Unions angrily condemns the ‘peace plan’ for Israel announced by US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It is a plan to create an even more extreme version of an apartheid Israeli state, which would lead to the complete subjugation of the Palestinian people. It is a plan for war, not peace!
SAFTU reaffirms its solidarity with the Palestinian people in Gaza and the West Bank, who were not even consulted about these plans and who have overwhelmingly rejected it.
We agree fully with the view of BDS South Africa which asks us to: “Imagine that during the 1980s, the then US President Ronald Reagan, appearing on TV with the then Prime Minister of Apartheid South Africa, PW Botha. During their press conference, Reagan announces that he has a plan for Apartheid. The plan, which was primarily drafted by his daughter and her husband, is that the white supremacist government of Apartheid SA will continue as is and the indigenous black population must accept the status quo”.
For the people of Palestine this so-called ‘Deal of the Century’ would impose something even worse than ‘the status quo’ – the imposition of what South African apartheid leaders called ‘grand apartheid’.
The Palestinians would only be left with a ‘homeland’, consisting of small, unconnected enclaves scattered throughout the West Bank and Gaza, plus an area of mostly desert, which is supposed to compensate for the loss of about 30% of the West Bank.
The Israeli peace organisation Btselem has compared the plan to Swiss cheese: “the cheese is being offered to the Israelis and the holes to the Palestinians.”
Just as with South Africa’s ‘homelands’, the Trump plan would grant the Palestinian ‘homeland’ limited autonomy over civil matters like education and healthcare, and the right to elect its leaders, but it will not be allowed to have an army and critical areas such as trade, immigration, and security would remain under Israeli control. Yet the Palestinians would have no political rights at all in Israel.
And,14 years since the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that the construction of Israel’s apartheid wall and its settlements, land confiscation, separate roads, permit systems and movement restrictions in the occupied Palestinian West Bank – are illegal under international law, the Trump plan would allow and legitimise illegal Israeli settlements on the West Bank and the Jordan Valley, which would become integral parts of Israel, and with Jerusalem as its ‘undivided capital’.
Outrageously the plan would compel the ‘homeland’ to implement the “complete dismantling of Hamas”, the party which was elected to govern Gaza. It would also refuse Palestinian refugees the “right of return” to homes lost to Israel in previous conflicts.
The leader of Fatah, Mahmoud Abbas, has called the plan a “conspiracy that will not pass”. Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhr described the document as worthless; “Palestine will prevail, and Trump and the deal will go to the dustbin of history”. The Lebanese militant group, Hezbollah said the plan was an attempt “to wipe out Palestinian people’s rights” and accused some Arab states of being complicit in a “deal of shame”.
Even a former senior US state department official, Nicholas Burns, says the plan “forfeits any presence of fairness and consigns the Palestinians to live as stateless people on their own land. It will deepen, rather than resolve, this seven-decade conflict”.
What make the announcement of this plan even more sinister is that the two leaders presenting it are facing serious charges. Trump is facing impeachment and Netanyahu faces three criminal corruption indictments. As Palestinian prime minister, Mohammad Shtayyeh, has said, the plan has more to do with Trump and Netanyahu’s legal woes than peace. “This is a plan to protect Trump from impeachment and protect Netanyahu from prison. It is not a Middle East peace plan”.
It is scandalous that the Palestinian people’s future is being jeopardised to try to protect the careers of criminal leaders.
Their plan marks the culmination of 72 years in which the Israeli regime has systematically stolen the land and persecuted the people of Palestine. In Gaza and the occupied territories on the West Bank, people have suffered continuous murderous bombings, arbitrary arrests, beatings and shootings.
Now the Israeli government and its paymaster, the USA, are planning to take this process to its final and tragic conclusion – to crush the people’s struggle to achieve an independent Palestine and condemn its people to slavery.
But the people will not let this happen. They will fight back and be prepared to once again to face the regime’s inevitable response of bombs and bullets. It is our duty to mobilise solidarity and to let them know that they are not alone.
SAFTU calls upon workers and civil society South Africa and all over the world to mobilise a massive campaign to stop this catastrophe facing the Palestinian people. Israel’s and the USA’s plans must be defeated by the pressure of workers and civil society.
Trade unions around the world should take urgent measures to intensify the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel, until it complies with international law, abandons the Trump plan and grants the Palestine people their right an independent sovereign state.
In particular we call on unions to:
1. Stop handling goods imported from or exported to Israel,
2. Divest trade union pension – and other – funds from Israel bonds and from corporations and banks that are complicit in Israel’s occupation and human rights violations,
3. Dissociate from Israeli trade unions which are complicit in the occupation
4. Support the call for a military embargo on Israel
5. Boycott Israeli products
SAFTU also demands that the South African government cuts all diplomatic ties with the Israeli, refuses to business with Israeli companies and bans the import of goods and services from the apartheid state.
Solidarity with the oppressed people of Palestine!
Workers of the world unite!