Wednesday, June 18, 2008

"Trade unionists today demanded a blanket ban on the imports of Israeli goods and services."

"Trade unionists call for Israeli import ban"

June 18, 2008

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Trade unionists today demanded a blanket ban on the imports of Israeli goods and services.

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (Ictu) also called on politicians to get their EU counterparts to address the actions of the Israeli government.

The trade union umbrella group, which sent a delegation to the region, said it was taking the action in a bid to encourage Israeli compliance with international law and to cease its violation of the human rights of the Palestinian people.

Its pleas for change were made as Israel officially confirmed that a ceasefire with Hamas militants will begin this week in an effort to end a year of fighting that has killed more than 400 Palestinians and seven Israelis.

A Congress spokesman said Israel’s biggest exports to the EU include fruit, vegetables and hi-tech goods, while Irish companies have invested in the construction sector.

“We are supporting and promoting a boycott campaign of Israeli goods and services and a policy of disinvestment from Israeli companies,” he said.

“We are calling for the Irish public and anyone with any influence or power to join us.”

Ictu president Patricia McKeown and senior officials met with trade unionists, human rights activists and senior politicians during a visit to Israel, the West Bank and Gaza in November.

They asked for a meeting with Taoiseach Brian Cowen and Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin and called for Irish government assistance for building civic capacity in both Palestine and Israel, with regard to conflict resolution, along with investment in the Palestinian economy.

The delegation recommended its findings be distributed throughout the international trade union movement and urged other trade unions to visit the occupied territories.

Ictu said it now plans to host a high level conference with international speakers, to develop trade union solidarity.