Today the Labour Party Conference 2021 has voted in favour of a motion which condemns Israel’s ongoing Nakba in Palestine, its violence against Palestinians in Jerusalem, its deadly assault on Gaza which killed 67 children last May, as well as its de facto annexation of Palestinian land through illegal settlement expansion. Furthermore, the motion acknowledges Israel’s intention to proceed with annexation, therefore eliminating any prospects of Palestinian self-determination.
Reports by both Human Rights Watch and Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem released this year have also highlighted how Israel’s systematic oppression of the Palestinian people as amount to the crime of apartheid.
Israel’s treatment of Palestinians has also been regularly cited by UN Special Rapporteurs on the Human Rights Situation in Palestine as evidence of an apartheid system in action. Examples of this include reports by Richard Falk, John Dugard, and the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia.
Through the passing of the motion, conference resolves to “adhere to an ethical policy on all UK trade with Israel, including stopping any arms trade used to violate Palestinian human rights and trade with illegal settlements.”
This motion follows TUC Congress motions passed in 2020 and 2021 that also acknowledge reports identifying Israel as practicing the crime of apartheid as defined under the Rome Statute.
Kamel Hawwash, PSC Chair said: “We welcome this important and historic motion which represents a significant step for the Labour party in acknowledging the reality of the system of apartheid imposed by Israel on Palestinians. It also recognises the consequences that flow from this analysis in terms of sanctions and the ending of any trade which supports Israel’s violations of international law.
He added :”Despite huge pressure imposed on Labour to reverse policy commitments made at Conference in 2018 and 2019, this demonstrates the strength of solidarity with the Palestinian people amongst Labour’s grassroots members and within the trade union movement. It is time impunity ended and accountability started.”
Conference condemns the ongoing Nakba in Palestine, Israel’s militarised violence attacking the Al Aqsa mosque, the forced displacements from Sheikh Jarrah and the deadly assault on Gaza.
Together with the de facto annexation of Palestinian land by accelerated settlement building and statements of Israel’s intention to proceed with annexation, it is ever clearer that Israel is intent on eliminating any prospects of Palestinian self-determination.
Conference notes the TUC 2020 Congress motion describing such settlement building and annexation as ‘another significant step’ towards the UN Crime of Apartheid, and calling on the European and international trade union movement to join the international campaign to stop annexation and end apartheid.
Conference also notes the unequivocal 2021 reports by B’Tselem and Human Rights Watch that conclude Israel is practising the crime of apartheid as defined by the UN.
Conference welcomes the International Criminal Court decision to hold an inquiry into abuses committed in the occupied Palestinian Territory since 2014.
Conference resolves that action is needed now due to Israel’s continuing illegal actions and that Labour should adhere to an ethical policy on all UK trade with Israel, including stopping any arms trade used to violate Palestinian human rights and trade with illegal Israeli settlements.
Conference resolves to support “effective measures” including sanctions, as called for by Palestinian civil society, against actions by the Israeli government that are illegal according to international law; in particular to ensure that Israel stops the building of settlements, reverses any annexation, ends the occupation of the West Bank, the blockade of Gaza, brings down the Wall and respects the right of the Palestinian people, as enshrined in international law, to return to their homes.
Conference resolves that the Labour Party must stand on the right side of history and abide by these resolutions in its policy, communications and political strategy.