Dr Mustafa Barghouti, speaking at the 200-strong Solidarity for Palestine trade union conference on Saturday, warned of the massive campaign by US president Trump and the Israeli government against the Palestinians and their supporters worldwide.
‘The Israeli government and the Zionist movement do not have to hide their intentions anymore,’ he said.
‘After the Oslo agreement about two states their new strategy has new dangers.
‘Now everything is clear; they want to annex the whole of Palestine and we have clear evidence of everything. Clearly, they plan a fully-fledged Apartheid system much worse than South Africa had.
‘There is a reign of psychological terror internationally,’ he said.
‘In Germany they have passed a law equating the Boycott Divestment Sanctions campaign (BDS) campaign against Israel with anti- Semitism.
‘It is like McCarthyism. Anyone who supports BDS is an anti-Semite.’
‘NGO Monitor has one goal; to destroy Palestinian civil society,’ he alleged.
‘AIPAC (the pro-Israel lobby group in the US) has new branches everywhere.
‘Their plan is to annex the Palestinian territories and drive all Palestinians out.
‘But they do not understand,’ he declared, ‘that we will never leave.
‘The power of blaming the victim to apologise for being a victim and because our feelings of oppression is a threat to them because we remind them of their crimes.
‘We are also Semites,’ Barghouti continued
‘Clearly they want to destroy the whole of Palestinian society.
‘Also is the violence and violation of human rights in the siege of Gaza, which is the largest open-air prison in the history of humanity.
‘Male unemployment is 65 per cent, average wages of $US140 a month, 95 per cent of water is polluted, poverty levels of 85 per cent, open sewage everywhere, and infectious diseases that were eradicated coming back.
‘In the West Bank there is the unprecedented building of settlements and now over 787 checkpoints.’
He said: ‘I know about the attacks on the Labour Party and on Jeremy Corbyn. Don’t let them do it.
‘It is very important to bring down this horrible government of Boris Johnson.
‘It was Nelson Mandela who said: “Palestine is the most important issue of our time. South Africa will never be free until Palestine is free.”
‘We need a strategy, we need to increase political pressure and trade union resolutions. We need to expand the BDS locally and pass resolutions in trade unions and we need to support the steadfastness of the Palestinian people.’
Barghouti appealed for support for BDS, the demand the UK government stop all military co-operation with Israel and for Israel to be punished for violating international law and human rights.
‘I am sick and tired of statements from governments without actions.
‘What do states do? Nothing!
‘You supported the anti-Apartheid movement in South Africa. Do the same.
‘Even one incident of delaying trade in an airport or port is much more powerful than 1,000 statements. We are in Palestine. We are there and we will never give up!’ he concluded.
Mick Whelan, ASLEF general secretary of the train drivers union said: ‘Millions of people want a real change in Palestine and the way forward is with international solidarity with the trade unions.
‘The Zionist state is in great difficulty – Netanyahu wants a one-state solution. Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine and Trump taking UNRWA (United Nations relief and works agency) money away is taking away the right to exit. Are we doing enough? We need international pressure and the ITUC (International TradeUnion Confederation) to press forward.’
Samia Al-Botmeh, from Birzeit University in Palestine, condemned Israeli policy of undermining production as economic colonialism, learnt from the British in India.
‘Restricted access to water resources, bans on imports, exports and machinery for production, settlement expansion, with vast areas of land attached, work permits, apartheid walls and checkpoints are all employed to cripple production,’ she explained.
‘Women in particular have no opportunity to work’ she said.
‘We need to stand politically to end Israeli colonialism and BDS is one way to do this,’ she added.