On the 5th and 6th of March, Palestinian solidarity activists from across Spain gathered for a forum on how to implement the calls made from the grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel. The grassroots organization reflects the position of a vast array of Palestinian civil society which has highlighted how sustained international pressure can make an important contribution in the struggle to tear down the Apartheid Wall, end the Occupation and cease the continual colonization of the Palestinian people and their lands.
41 different civil society and social movement organizations from Spain met to work together in the challenge of providing effective solidarity with the Palestinian struggle and to coordinate strategies and practical steps necessary for a sustained and concrete boycotts programme. The last Spanish Social Forum held in December 2004 had focused on the need to provide stronger solidarity with the Palestinian struggle. This national strategy meeting, the first of its kind, was the crystallization of these efforts to create united and broader support for the Palestinian people.
The EU relations with Israel formed a major part of the discussion, and consensus was reached around campaigns for sanctions on arms trade with Israel noting Israelâs perpetual and systematic violation of human rights.
The call for an arms embargo noted the alarming increase of Spanish-Israeli commercial and military relations. The Spanish government currently plans to sell up to three military ships to the Occupation Forces and is continuing to masquerade military assistance of this nature as âscientificâ or âconsultationâ projects.
Export of a variety of Israeli goods (particularly foodstuffs and technology) provides crucial income for Israel and activists agreed to work towards halting EU/Israel trade. Targeting selected Israeli companies and products is one of the ways in which the solidarity movements can embark upon a boycotts campaign. How such a strategy can take shape was discussed at the meeting and a call was made for the suspension of the preferential EU-Israel Trade Association Agreement.
Saturday June the 4th was designated as a day of co-ordinated mobilization and protest against the Occupation of Palestine. Furthermore, campaigners formed a resolution to the Spanish government demanding the unconditional return to Palestine of the three Palestinian freedom fighters, forced into exile after the siege on the Nativity Church in Spring 2002.
The meeting provides yet another example of how a variety of social movements and solidarity groups can come together in a common front to take first steps to the implementation of Palestinian calls for solidarity in their struggle. It is crucial that with every meeting the solidarity movements move closer to fully fledged and committed campaigns. Only through concrete measures of boycotts, sanctions and divestment can international solidarity provide the levels of support vital in confronting and defeating the Israeli Apartheid project and its destruction of the Palestinian people and their lands. The efforts of Spanish activists and the creation of a national strategy group provide some optimism that the calls from Palestine will be translated into genuine and sustained efforts in the international solidarity movement.