On 29 November 2007, the day that the UN proclaimed as the International Day of Solidarity with Palestine, the largest Dutch trade union, FNV ABVAKABO, with over 350,000 members, sent a letter to its colleagues at the Palestinian Health Services Union and Public Services Union, based on a decision of its membership. FNV ABVAKABO informed the unions about the postponement of its solidarity conference that was planned on that day. They assured the Palestinian trade unions that the union will put pressure on Israel to comply with international law
Since 1994 Palestine has been part of FNV ABVAKABO international solidarity policy. In its letter to the Palestinian unions it refers to a resolution of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) which was adopted in December 2004. The ICFTU has 241 affiliated organizations in 156 countries with a membership of 155 million. The resolution calls for the immediate ending of the occupation of 1967 in the West Bank and Gaza, including the existence of the wall and Jewish settlements.
While preparing the solidarity conference FNV ABVAKABO will involve more FNV affiliates and point out to the Dutch government and parliament their responsibility to hold Israel accountable to comply with international law.
In the letter to the Palestinian unions it is made clear that the solidarity conference was postponed because a key Palestinian speaker could not join the conference. It will be held as soon as possible.
Boycott of Israel
The July 2005 Palestinian civil society call for boycott, divestement and sanctions against Israel until it complies with International law and universal principles of human rights was signed by several trade unions like the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions, the General Union of Palestinian Teachers, and the Federation of Unions of Palestinian Universities’ Professors and Employees. On 20 October 2007 the General Union of Palestine Workers (GUPW) released a statement in which it expressed support to all efforts of the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign to achieve a just peace and freedom and independence for the Palestinian people. In the statement GUPW specifically expresses its support to the boycott of the Israeli labor union Histradrut, also by international trade unions, because Histradrut’s “lack of position to end the Israeli occupation of Palestine.”
In an article by Cnaan Liphshiz published by Haaretz on 29 November 2007, Ronnie Naftaniel raised his concern that Histadrut was not invited for the FNV ABVAKABO solidarity conference. Naftaniel is described by Liphshiz the head of “the Dutch pro-Zionist Center for Information and Documentation on Israel.” Liphshiz writes that the shelving of the solidarity conference of FNV ABVAKABO ended concerns of a boycott against Israel. At the same time Liphshiz quotes a spokesman of the Dutch trade union, who says “ABVAKABO didn’t decide to rule out a boycott call, nor do we intend to do so.” This last quote is more in line with the reality. The largest Dutch trade union expressed its commitment towards its Palestinian colleagues to increase the pressure on Israel to comply with international law and it will hold a solidarity conference with trade unionists from Palestine. The efforts of Naftaniel and Liphshiz to paint another picture will not stop FNV ABVAKABO.
Adri Nieuwhof is a consultant and human rights advocate.