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U.K. labor unions mull Israel boycott in wake of Gaza war


17 September 2009

British labor unions say they’ll vote at an annual conference on whether to support a boycott of some Israeli goods in response to the offensive in Gaza.

The boycott, proposed by the Fire Brigades Union, calls for a ban on importing goods produced in some Israeli settlements, an end of arms trading with Israel and disinvestment from some companies.

A motion to be debated on Thursday at a conference of labor union officials also condemns the actions of Hamas.

About 1,400 Palestinians, including hundreds of civilians, were killed in the December-January offensive, which sought to stop rocket fire by Gaza militants on southern Israeli towns. Thirteen Israelis also died, including four civilians.

In May of this year, Norway’s largest labor union urged the Scandinavian country to lead an international boycott of Israel if it did not reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians.

The Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions, whose members constitute more than a third of the country’s employees, said in a statement that both Israel and the Palestinians deserve to live in peace and security, and as long as this was not achieved, the Israeli government was to be held accountable.

The organization urged Israel to put an end to the “illegal occupation,” respect the 1967 borders, halt the expansion of the settlements and remove the security barrier.

In February, Irish trade unionists said that they plan to launch a boycott of Israeli goods in 2009. Meanwhile, Manchester University Student Union adopted a resolution supporting a boycott of Israel.

In moving ahead with plans to boycott Israel, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) says it is relying on “evidence” left in the aftermath of the Israeli invasion into Gaza in December.

It also said to be drawing from a “fact-finding mission” to Gaza by a dozen of its senior members more than a year ago. Leaders within the Irish Congress of Trade Unions are to hold a conference this year to act as “a springboard” for their campaign.