Palestinians say no to Israel boycott
The Palestinian Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU) does not support a general boycott on trade and investment with Israel.
This position emerged at the annual TUC Congress in Brighton this week, where a heated debate took place over the question of whether Palestinian workers are in favour of the boycott.
At a fringe event on Tuesday, organised by the Trade Union Friends of Israel (Tufi), attended by Ambassador Ron Prosor and Avital Shapira-Shvirow, head of international relations at the Histadrut, it was claimed the Palestinian trade unions "are against the boycott of Israel as it harms first of all Palestinian workers." Boycott supporters who attended the event claimed the opposite.
Sue Blackwell of Birmingham University, a key supporter of the boycott at the University and College Union, insisted: "It is our Palestinian colleagues who have called for the boycott, and the PGFTU have signed the petitions."
No representative of the PGFTU was present at the event, but Fathi Nasser, legal adviser of the PGFTU and the main speaker at a Palestinian Solidarity Campaign fringe meeting, later told the JC that his organisation was not in favour of a general boycott: "We think there should be boycotts only of companies directly involved in building settlements and the apartheid wall."
Members of TUFI said the reception they had received this year from delegates was, overall, positive.
"Three years ago they stripped our stand of all leaflets," said volunteer Ian Sternberg. "This year the stand is opposite that of the PSC and things are quite friendly."
Tufi chairman Roger Lyons said: "The agreement the Histadrut and PGFTU have just signed seems to have cut the legs off most attacks and calls for boycott."
The agreement means that 50 per cent of the union membership fees of Palestinians working for Israeli firms will be transferred to the PGFTU.
Last month, the RMT transport workers union rejected a boycott motion and to date, the only union actively supporting a boycott is the UCU.