The South African Federation of Trade Unions declares its full support for the people of Palestine as they mobilise for the “Great March of Return” to mark the 70th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba (disaster), when the Israeli state was created, and in protest of the US moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Tens of thousands of Palestinians intend to breach the Israeli security fence on Tuesday 15 May, and to assert their right of return to the homes from which, in 1948, their parents and grandparents were forcibly expelled.
In those 70 years the Israeli regime has stolen the land and subjugated the people of Palestine in the most brutal fashion. In both Gaza and the occupied territories on the West Bank, people have suffered continuous murderous bombings, arbitrary arrests, and beatings.Thousands of Palestinian men, women, and children are held in Israeli prisons; few of them have had a legitimate trial; physical abuse and torture are frequent.
Palestinian borders (even internal ones) are controlled by Israeli forces. Periodically men, women, and children are strip-searched; people are beaten; women in labour are prevented from reaching hospitals (at times resulting in death)[; food and medicine are blocked from entering Gaza, producing an escalating humanitarian crisis. Israeli forces invade almost daily, injuring, kidnapping, and sometimes killing inhabitants.
It is 14 years since the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that the construction of Israel’s 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 international governments have allowed Israel to continue construction on occupied territory and its system of occupation, apartheid and colonialism against the Palestinian people. President Trump has come out as a big supporter of Zionist action by recognizing Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and opening his embassy there.
SAFTU, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and partner organisations (SA Jews for a Free Palestine, Runners for Palestine, Palestine Solidarity Forum-UCT, Claremont Main Road Mosque, and Palestine Museum) are opening a Solidarity Tent in Cape Town next to the Castle of Good Hope and and holding join a South African “Great March of Return” in support of Palestinians during this historic occasion, and at Parliament to demand that the SA government to adopt laws in support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign.
Workers and civil society are the only forces that can stop the ongoing slaughter of the Palestinian people, to whom we send a message that they are not alone. Trade unions around the world should take urgent measures, in particular to intensify boycotts, divestments and sanctions against Israel, until it complies with international law, plus 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
Today more than ever, solidarity with Palestinians workers and their families in Gaza and the occupied West Bank is an essential component of progressive, principled trade union politics. Israel’s occupation must be isolated by the pressure of workers and civil society.
Solidarity with the oppressed people of Palestine!
Workers of the world unite!