The government must act now to stop the illegal annexation of Palestine

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Today I wrote to the Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, to urge him to take immediate steps to oppose the Israeli government’s illegal plans to annex huge swathes of Palestinian land in the West Bank to Israel from 1 July.

These dangerous proposals, which are supported by US President Donald Trump, represent a serious attack on decades of international law and successive United Nations resolutions, and further undermine the rights of the Palestinian people and the prospects of peace in the Middle East.

As the world is focused on the response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Israeli government is rushing to implement these plans ahead of the US presidential elections in November.

Whilst the UK government says it doesn’t support the plans, it has failed to explain what actions, beyond words, it will take if annexation goes ahead. We know from the last 53 years of occupation that strongly worded statements without actions are consistently ignored by the Israeli government, yet the UK government seems intent of continuing with this approach.

Almost 150 parliamentarians have written to the Prime Minister to call on the government to introduce economic sanctions if annexation goes ahead, whilst the Labour Party has called for a ban on goods from the illegal settlements in the West Bank. Over 70 Palestinian civil society organisations, including many trade unions, have called for ‘Effective Measures’ as a targeted and proportionate response to the proposals. They call on the international community to suspend trade agreements with Israel, prohibit all trade with the illegal Israeli settlements and halt the arms trade with Israel – all measures which UNISON supports.

I am proud of our union’s strong and unwavering record of solidarity with the Palestinian people. UNISON has consistently called for a two-state solution, based on pre-1967 borders, with a viable Palestinian state alongside Israel. We were amongst the first unions in Europe to support calls for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions to put pressure on the Israeli government to end the occupation and the violation of Palestinian human rights and comply with international law.

The rights of the Palestinian people have been ignored by the international community for far too long. We cannot allow this attempt to destroy the prospects of a viable Palestinian state to go ahead. Our union will do all we can to urge the UK government and the international community to act immediately and decisively to stop these dangerous and destructive plans.