Factsheet on Palestine for Trade Unions

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Palestinian Grassroots Anti-apartheid Wall Campaign
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In Solidarity

The Apartheid Wall has been deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice, yet the international community has done nothing to halt its encroachment on Palestinian land. Palestinian workers and farmers have been the most effected by the ongoing construction of the wall, thus we reach out to trade unions, invoking the best practices of trade union solidarity and internationalism under the tried and true union slogan of ‘an injury to one is an injury to all!’. We implore workers around the world in the spirit of the South African Anti-Apartheid struggle, where trade union solidarity was critical, to raise awareness within their unions and workplaces about the daily violations Palestinian workers and farmers have to endure. Help us expose the companies complicit in the construction of the Apartheid Wall.

While the Israeli state argues that the construction of the wall is due to security reasons, the reality is that the Apartheid Wall cuts across Palestinian lands, separating the Palestinians into smaller segregated ghettos where the workers movement is controlled though a permit system (reminiscent of the Pass Laws of the South African apartheid state). The Apartheid Wall has been especially harmful to Palestinian farmers and agricultural workers who are forced to obtain permits to work their own lands behind the Wall or near settlements. Applicants must satisfy the security considerations and submit land documents to prove a ‘connection to the land’. Those that obtain permits are often only allowed on their land for limited periods during the harvest season, making the upkeep of farmland impossible.

We ask the trade union movement to stand in solidarity with Palestinian workers and farmers by joining the Week Against the Apartheid Wall and by helping us to distribute the following facts.

Link to Call for Participation in the Week Against the Apartheid Wall:

http://stopthewall.org/week-against-apartheid-wall

Factsheet on Palestine for Trade Unions:

The concrete Wall is present in Bethlehem, parts of Ramallah, Qalqilya, parts of Tulkarm and throughout the Jerusalem envelope. It is 8 meters high - twice the height of the Berlin Wall - with watchtowers and a “buffer zone” 30-100 meters wide for electric fences, trenches, cameras, sensors, and military patrols. In other places, the Wall consists of layers of fencing and razor wire, military patrol roads, sand paths to trace footprints, ditches and surveillance cameras.

The Apartheid Wall’s “buffer zone” paves the way for large-scale demolitions and the expulsion of nearby residents, as in many places the Wall is located just meters away from homes, shops, and schools. The land between the Apartheid Wall and the Green Line has been declared a “seam zone”, and all residents and landowners in this area must obtain a permit to remain in their homes and on their lands.

Link to Factsheet on the Wall:

http://stopthewall.org/apartheid-wall-updated-2009

The current approach to development, which is entirely removed from the needs of Palestinian communities, aims to normalise relations with the Occupation, treating it as development partner in projects across the West Bank. Not only do these projects often run contrary to international law, but also they serve to further entrench the Occupation while at the same time placing Palestinian economic growth in a subjugated role. As such, these programs both fail to provide sustainable growth and undercut the Palestinian struggle.

A Full Critique of West Bank Development Approaches and Projects:

http://stopthewall.org/briefing-development-or-normalisation-critique-we...

These findings have serious implications, not only for development and economic growth, but also on account of the deteriorating political situation. While peace talks have stalled, development projects continue that implicitly recognize expanded borders, annexations and settlements.

“The bleak economic, social and humanitarian situation in the occupied Arab territories, creates an environment in which workers’ rights and human dignity continue to be violated on a daily basis”, said the International Labor Organization's Director-General Juan Somavia, “in the absence of other opportunities, many Palestinians are bound to seek work in the informal economy, often at the price of precarious working conditions and poor labour protection”

Read a First-hand Story from Famer Mitri Ghounam:

http://stopthewall.org/mitri-ghounam-when-you-have-finished-your-wall-yo...

Mitri Ghounam's land can be accessed only via a metal gate and fenced off road. The house is surrounded on three sides by either a concrete wall or a metal fence. Mitri has worked hard to provide for his family, only to see his hard work stolen from him. The destruction of his land is destroying him. It is because of this that Mitri said to an Israeli soldier, 'When you have finished your wall, you will have finished me'.

Since the construction of the Wall began, Palestinian communities have been resisting it through sustained demonstrations on the ground, pursuing legal challenges in the courts, and launching campaigns at the international level. Since the year 2005, weekly protests are held in numerous villages of Palestine, places where resistance is strongest. Farmers and rural residents are the leaders of the Palestinian popular resistance movement.

Weekly protests have persevered and expanded in spite of growing repression from Israeli Occupation Forces. Popular committees active against the Wall and the settlements have already lived through two waves of killings in 2004/5 and in 2007/8 and for the years since have faced a gradual surge of arrests. Yet even despite these heavy-handed tactics, Stop the Wall still did not anticipate the level of repression faced by Palestinian civil society over the past year.

Report on Popular Resistance and Repression:

http://stopthewall.org/report-people-versus-oppression

Palestinian workers are a key part of the Palestinian movement for liberation. Up to 1948, Palestinian trade unions fought both for the rights of Palestinian workers in the workplace as well as against Zionist discrimination. From 1948 to 1966, the Israeli authorities imposed military rule on only one part of its population: the remaining Palestinians who had become citizens of Israel. This served, among others, as an important tool in regulating the Palestinian entrance into the labor market. In 1967, with the occupation of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, the remainder of historical Palestine came under Israeli control. The Israeli state attempted to co-opt Palestinian labor and incorporate it into its economy and its expansion and settlement projects.

In 2002, construction of the Wall began, cementing the Bantustans. Farmers and agricultural workers are now more than ever blocked from reaching their fields, while other workers, especially around Jerusalem, found themselves unemployed as a result of not being able to reach their places of work. Palestinian workers are suffering from restrictions put on every aspect of life, which make reaching work places and earning a decent livelihood almost impossible. In its latest report on the situation of workers in Arab occupied territories, the ILO states that “no real improvement can take place unless restrictions imposed by the Israeli occupation, and the occupation itself is removed”.

Read about the Palestinian Labor Movement:

http://stopthewall.org/impact-palestinian-workers-under-israeli-occupation

The Wall and its checkpoints, observation systems, and military roads is the largest infrastructure project carried out by the Occupation authorities to date, requiring a variety of landscapers and planners; suppliers of concrete, fencing and heavy machinery; and other producers of various high-tech equipment.

A global boycott, divestment, and sanctions strategy against these companies has met with recent success, such as the loss of $10 billion in contracts for Veolia, a French multinational company that profits directly from the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory.

Factsheet on Companies Building the Wall:

http://stopthewall.org/factsheet-companies-building-wall

  1. An overview of the Wall
  2. The Wall and Development of a Ghetto Economy
  3. A Worker's Perspective on the Wall
  4. Palestinian Popular Resistance Against the Wall
  5. A History of the Palestinian Labor Movement
  6. Corporations complicit in the Occupation and Exploitation of the Palestinian People
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