The South African Federation of Trade Unions strongly condemns President Donald Trump’s outrageous announcement that the US is recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and pledges its solidarity with the people of Palestine, in face of this blatant attack on their struggle for sovereignty and independence.
Jerusalem is of huge symbolic significance to the people of Palestine. Its recognition as the capital of the state which has enslaved them is a massive blow to their fight for self determination. It has exposed the talk by the Israeli regime, the US government and its supporters about wanting a negotiated settlement as lies and deceit.
For seventy years the Israeli colonial and racist regime has driven Palestinians off their land, deprived them of all basic human rights and forced them to live in either the squalid ghetto of Gaza, which has been ruthlessly bombarded by the Israeli armed forces, or in the Israeli-occupied territories of the West Bank where they suffer daily attacks from the state’s police and army.
The West Bank has been colonised by more and more Israeli settlements built on land stolen from the Palestinians, who have been cut off large parts of what was once their homeland by a huge wall which is used to enforce a new form of apartheid to keep Palestinians in their place of imprisonment.
In 2004 the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that the construction of this wall and its associated regime in the occupied Palestinian West Bank – of settlements, land confiscation, separate roads, permit systems and movement restrictions – is illegal under international law.
Yet the the world capitalist powers, in particular the US, allowed Israel to continue with impunity to build on occupied territory and continue its system of occupation, apartheid and colonialism against the Palestinian people.
Trump has now torn off the mask and openly declared what has been the reality since the state of Israel was born – that Israel is an agent and a puppet of Western imperialism and its police force in the Middle East.
What the Israeli regime wants now is the total subjugation of its colonial subjects and Trump’s contemptuous statement is a declaration of war which will give the regime a green light to further enslave the people of Palestine.
The Palestinians will inevitably and rightly respond in anger and SAFTU fully supports them, in particular its growing trade union movement, when they express this anger in protests on the streets, and will back any action they take to defend themselves from further Israel state attacks.
We will never equate action taken by an oppressive dictatorial regime with the reaction of those being oppressed and subjugated. The Palestinians’ struggle is just like the South African people’s struggle against apartheid and we need the same kind of global solidarity campaign against this new Israeli variety of apartheid.
The federation calls upon the workers of the world to support the Palestinians’ fight for national sovereignty and democratic rights. Specifically SAFTU calls on trade unions to intensify the campaign of Boycotts, Divestments and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel, until it complies with international law. We urge all 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 companies and banks that are complicit in Israel’s occupation and human rights violations,
3. Dissociate from Israeli trade unions which are not prepared to condemn the occupation
4. Support the call for a military embargo on Israel
It is more than ever crucial to demonstrate solidarity with Palestinians workers and their families in Gaza and the occupied West Bank, not just in words but in action.