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Date: 17 September 2009

Britain’s unions commit to a mass boycott movement of Israeli goods

In a landmark decision, Britain’s trade unions have voted overwhelmingly to commit to build a mass boycott movement, disinvestment and sanctions on Israel for a negotiated settlement based on justice for Palestinians.

The motion was passed at the 2009 TUC Annual Congress in Liverpool today (17 September), by unions representing 6.5 million workers across the UK.

Hugh Lanning, chair of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said: ‘This motion is the culmination of a wave of motions passed at union conferences this year, following outrage at Israel’s brutal war on Gaza, and reflects the massive growth in support for Palestinian rights. We will be working with the TUC to develop a mass campaign to boycott Israeli goods, especially agricultural products that have been produced in illegal Israeli settlements in the Palestinian West Bank.’

The motion additionally called for the TUC General Council to put pressure on the British government to end all arms trading with Israel and support moves to suspend the EU-Israel trade agreement. Unions are also encouraged to disinvest from companies which profit from Israel’s illegal 42-year occupation of Gaza and the West Bank.

The motion was tabled by the Fire Brigades Union. The biggest unions in the UK including UNISON voted in favour of the motion.

UNISON Scottish Convenor Mike Kirby, who recently returned from a Scottish Trade Union Congress fact-finding mission to Israel and Palestine, spoke in the debate.

"The delegation questioned the officials on Israel's failure to comply with UN security council resolutions, on the high number of civilian deaths and casualties, the political timing of the attacks on Gaza and Israel allowing the ceasefire with Hamas to expire. We did not receive any satisfactory answers to these questions", he said

"We need a campaign of focused and selective action against arms sales to Israel, against the illegal settlements and for a targeted consumer boycott. We need to get as many people involved as possible. Our aim is not to put jobs at risk, but to build political support and awareness. This is our generation's responsibility."

The motion also condemned the Israeli trade union Histadrut’s statement supporting Israel’s war on Gaza, which killed 1,450 Palestinians in three weeks, and called for a review of the TUC’s relationship with Histadrut. Britain’s trade unions join those of South Africa and Ireland in voting to use a mass boycott campaign as a tool to bring Israel into line with international law, and pressure it to comply with UN resolutions that encourage justice and equality for the Palestinian people..

Notes to Editors

•Media contact: Palestine Solidarity Campaign 020 7700 6192

•The full motion passed on 17 September can be viewed at: http://www.congressvoices.org/2009/76-palestine/

•The Palestine Solidarity Campaign is the largest solidarity movement with Palestinians in Britain – and is supported by thousands of individual members alongside 18 national trade union and hundreds of local trade union affiliates.

For more information: http://www.palestinecampaign.org

•The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement aims to pressure Israel into complying with international law. http://www.bdsmovement.net/