Lift the ban from the Gaza Under-19 team!

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THE banning of the Under-19 Gaza football team from coming to play in Britain after they had been invited to play against Chester City and Blackburn Rovers amongst other teams is absolutely disgraceful.

Without doubt it is a racist ban, and yet another anti- Palestinian action by a Labour government that supplies arms to Israel, supported it in its recent attack on the Lebanon, and refused to call for a ceasefire, when Lebanese men, women and children were being murdered, and has stood by and watched thousands of Palestinians being killed since the start of the illegal occupation of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem in 1967.

It is well known that the British government has got it in for the people of Gaza. It was their vote that clinched the victory of Hamas in the Palestinian general election that led to a Hamas government in Palestine.

The response of the British ‘democratic’ government was to refuse to recognise the result of the election, and to mount a blockade of Palestine to try and starve the Palestinians into submission.

The ex-British Prime Minister Tony Blair has gone from supporting the occupation of Palestine and the Israeli repressions, to propping up the Abbas regime in the West Bank, so that there is some body with which the Israeli government can negotiate the annexing of a big part of the West Bank to Israel and the emergence alongside it of a Palestinian Bantustan, under the control of and dominated by the US and Israel.

The masses of Gaza are a bulwark against this plan, and the vast majority of the Palestinians are opposed to this conspiracy.

This is why Britain is venting its special spleen against a team of Under-19 footballers from Gaza. It does not want to be seen to be recognising any part of Palestinian Gaza, not even its Under-19 footballers.

Of course the Jewish state of Israel has no such problems. Its football team will be playing in England at Wembley in September. Israel is a highly militarised state. There is no doubt that Israeli team members and members of its support party have been, are or will be in the Israeli armed forces or the reservists, and will have played their part in policing and repressing the occupied Palestinian territories.

This poses no problem at all for the Labour government. The occupiers are most welcome. The Under-19 Palestinian footballers, a part of the occupied masses are most definitely not welcome.

Labour MPs and the trade unions must demand that the ban on the Gaza football team be lifted. They must also call for a boycott of the England v Israel football game and that the match be cancelled.

The UCU trade union and the UNISON conference passed motions calling for a boycott of Israel and Israeli goods. Since then there has been a huge hue and cry over the issue from all of the assorted friends of Israel, which has seen the UNISON and TUC leaderships back away from any boycott of Israel, and run for cover.

There are no resolutions on the preliminary TUC agenda for their September Conference either on Palestine, ending the occupation or on imposing a boycott of Israel. After all of their words and resolutions on the subject, the trade union leaders are running away. Workers must demand and take action in support of the oppressed and starving Palestinian masses.

This must include a boycott of Israeli goods and services and a cultural and sporting boycott. There must be a campaign to lift the ban from the Gaza football team so that it can act as an ambassador for the Palestinian youth to Britain.

Labour MPs and the trade unions must raise the matter with the government at once.

Lift the ban on the Gaza Under-19 team! Impose a trade, cultural and sporting boycott of Israel!

Forward to a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, with all settlements withdrawn from the West Bank and with Palestinian refugees having the right to return!