The Trade Union Congress in Liverpool last week voted to support a boycott of goods from illegal Israeli settlements along with a call for an end to arms sales to the country.
It also condemned Israeli trade union federation Histadrut’s statement supporting Israel’s war on Gaza and called for a review of the TUC’s relationship with Histadrut.
The TUC agreed to step up the pressure “for an end to the occupation of Palestinian territories”.
Brendan Barber, the TUC general secretary, told delegates, “We believe that targeted action aimed at goods from the illegal settlements and at companies involved in the occupation and the wall, is the right way forward.
“This is not a call for a general boycott of Israeli goods and services, which would hit ordinary Palestinian and Israeli workers, but targeted, consumer-led sanctions directed at businesses based in, and sustaining, the illegal settlements.”
The TUC’s governing body worked out its position at a crisis meeting to block a tougher motion by the Fire Brigades Union (FBU), which called for a general boycott of Israeli goods.
Delegates backed both the FBU’s motion and a revised position agreed by the general council, which takes precedence in forming TUC policy.
The TUC statement, while improving an initial draft, limited the boycott by restricting it to goods from the illegal settlements.
Mick Shaw, the FBU president, said the general council statement was “impractical”.
“These goods do not come with a label which says ‘these goods are produced on an illegal settlement,’” he said.
The passing of the motion provides an opportunity to build the campaign for effective action in support of the Palestinians across the unions.