TUC DELEGATES in Manchester yesterday waved Palestinian flags as they voted unanimously for Emergency Motion 4, ‘Cuts to UNWRA and the Nation-State Law.’ This condemns the Knesset vote on 19th July and also the decision by US President Trump to cut the UN Works and Relief Agency aid budget by $300 million.
The motion states: ‘Congress condemns the Knesset (Israeli Parliament) majority decision on 19 July 2018 to adopt the new “nation-state law”. ‘Congress shares the opposition expressed by a wide range of Israeli citizens, including Palestinians, to this law which institutionally discriminates against Palestinian citizens of Israel.
‘The passing of the law has led to demonstrations in Tel Aviv called by groups asserting that “we are all equal citizens – Arabs and Jews, women and men, Mizrahim, Ethiopians, those of us from the former USSR and members of the LGBTQ community”. ‘Opposition to the law has also been expressed by the distinguished conductor and activist Daniel Barenboim, a group of over 100 writers and artists, members of the Druze community and the Peace Now group.
‘Congress expresses its solidarity with all those seeking to oppose this law and calls on the General Council to make representations to the UK government and to the Israeli authorities. ‘Congress also condemns the 24 August 2018 decision by the Trump Administration to cut $300 million from the aid budget to the United Nations Works & Relief Agency (UNWRA) which is responsible for 5.4 million Palestinian refugees.
‘This will result in threats to the education of over 526,000 Palestinian children and the jobs of 22,000 teachers. ‘Congress further calls on the General Council to make representations to the FCO to significantly increase the British contribution to UNWRA to avoid this humanitarian disaster.’
Moving the motion, Aslef General Secretary Mick Whelan said: ‘Palestine is about humanitarian issues and human rights. ‘We have to challenge when they are under attack. ‘On July 19th, the Knesset passed the law which stated “the right to exercise national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people.”
‘Self-determination is dependent on ethnicity within Israel and the bill ignores the fact that Palestinians have this right in what is their historic homeland.
‘In addition the law states that “Jerusalem, complete and united, is the capital of Israel”.’
Whelan continued: ‘Jerusalem is also the capital of Palestine. To deny this right to the Palestinians is also discriminatory and puts in law a major block to peace negotiations.’
He stressed: ‘The law is discriminatory, it’s apartheid. Netanyahu (Israeli prime minister) has no interest in peace. ‘There’s a crackdown on civil society groups. Alongside this, the grab for Palestinian land continues. ‘President Trump’s cuts to UNWRA of $300 million will mean 22,000 teachers won’t be able to teach.
‘Trump is also cutting health aid and there’s likely to be a wider withdrawal of funding.’ He concluded: ‘Support Israelis who like us oppose this, as well as Palestinians.’
Seconding the motion, Unite delegate Claire Lees. said: ‘This new law promotes one ethnic group above all others and Hebrew above Arabic as the official language. We unreservedly condemn such actions.’