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Is the Palestine Solidarity Campaign a fit partner for the unions?

Cross-posted from Eric Lee of TULIP

This week the British Trades Union Congress announced a joint campaign with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) in support of a boycott of goods produced in Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

The announcement followed the TUC’s congress decision in September 2009 to call for a limited boycott – a decision which reaffirmed the TUC’s commitment to a two-state solution.

But even a cursory glance at the website of the PSC reveals that this organisation does not share the TUC’s views on at least two fundamental issues.

First, the PSC strongly supports a boycott of all Israeli products — and blurs the disinction on its website. There are two large banners on its website’s front page, one of them clearly calling for the kind of comprehensive boycott/divestment/sanctions campaign that the TUC does not — yet — support. The TUC makes no special effort to distance itself from this.

Second, what the PSC doesn’t say is almost as important as what it does. On the page listing its aims, it calls for “for the right of self-determination for the Palestinian people” but mentions nothing about similar rights for Israelis. It calls for “the immediate withdrawal of the Israeli state from the occupied territories” (not a negotiated withdrawal, not in exchange for anything, but an immediate one). It calls for “the right of return of the Palestinian people”, which were it be carried out would result in a state with a small Jewish minority — something which is understandly unacceptable to Israelis.

These core aims — basically supporting a single state solution, which is what Hamas (but not Fatah) calls for — are incompatible with the TUC’s commitment to a negotiated, two-state solution. The British trade union movement’s support for genuine peace and reconciliation in the Middle East is not in doubt — but why partner with and support a group like the PSC?