The report will now go before the STUC's upcoming conference in Perth (20 - 22 April 2009). If carried, it will be a landmark moment for the BDS movement.
The visit came on the instruction of a previous General Council decision to investigate the case for BDS:
"At STUC Congress 2007 a resolution was carried which called on the General Council to explore the merits of the calls for boycott, disinvestment and sanctions (BDS) against the state of Israel until it complies with international law and agreed human rights principles. In September 2007 the General Council agreed a process for considering the BDS calls. A crucial part of this process was to visit the region and discuss BDS directly with trade unions from Israel and Palestine. A delegation of eleven trade unionists from the STUC visited Israel and Palestine in Spring 2009."During their visits to Nablus and Ramallah to meet Palestinian trade unionists, the delegates heard clear and unequivocal support for an international BDS campaign to help break Israel's oppressive occupation. A meeting with Palestinian women trade unionists reiterated the call, alongside the plea for a boycott of Israeli universities.
As stated in the report's conclusions, the situation is so bad for Palestinians that BDS could not substantially add to the sufferng they already endure.
Also included in the conference order of business is a call to terminate official relations with the Israeli trade union body Histadrut.
Lamentably, during the delegates visit, Histadrut officials failed to condemn Israel's recent assault on Gaza or denounce the Occupation. Beyond basic claims of support for a two state solution, Histadrut's statements to the delegates amounted to clear support for Israel.
Reading the report, it's abundantly clear that Histadrut's stated 'concerns' over BDS were motivated by the adverse impact it would have on the Israeli economy rather than any solidarity with Palestinian workers or adverse relations with the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions.
Despite Histadrut's claims to the delegates that it wishes to work closer with the PGFTU , it continues to operate as an exclusivist union and supportive organisation to Israel's apartheid policies. One damning example of such complicity, as noted in the STUC report, is the location of two Histadrut offices in the West Bank settlements.
Across the West Bank and Gaza, trade unionists, human rights groups and other civic organisations have all expressed their strong wish for BDS. Let's trust that those able to effect that wish do so in a spirit of moral intent and practical solidarity.