COSATU fully endorses the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) calls for a mandatory comprehensive arms embargo against Israel similar to that imposed against apartheid South Africa.
While solidarity with the Arab Spring for freedom, democracy and social justice is spreading around the world, many states and corporations continue their business-as-usual arms trade and military cooperation with Israel, despite its resort to massive violence against and killing of Palestinian and other Arab civilians, including school children and peaceful activists, and in spite of its increasingly brutal colonial policies against the Palestinian people and its persistent flouting of international law.
Many world governments, as well as the UN, are still silent in the face of Israel’s massive arsenal of nuclear weapons, widely regarded by international civil society as among the most serious threats to world peace. In fact, several Western governments were or still are direct accomplices in the creation, development and deployment of Israel’s daunting nuclear threat.
Despite the irrefutable and abundant evidence in UN resolutions and reports by international human rights organizations about Israel’s unlawful use of force and weapons in aggression and the commission of crimes against humanity, war crimes — including collective punishment — and grave human rights abuses, foreign governments, multilateral bodies and companies continue their cooperation with Israel’s army and military industry, and are increasing their investments in or support for Israeli military-related research and development, much of which is conducted in partnership with Israeli universities. These governments, multilateral bodies and companies are knowingly profiting from and, therefore, complicit in Israel’s unlawful use of force.
States and inter-state organizations, such as the United Nations, have a legal obligation to ensure that Israel complies with international law, but they have failed to do so. Impunity emboldens Israel while its international military trade relations bankroll and entrench its continued violence, militarism and expansionism.
Boycotts played a vital role in the overthrow of apartheid in South Africa. We wholeheartedly share the sentiment of our comrades in Palestine that boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) is the kernel to overthrowing Israeli apartheid.
Israel has a documented track record of breaching international humanitarian and human rights law during its armed conflicts, including military operations, invasions and occupations of Palestinian and other Arab territory through, among others, the excessive and indiscriminate use of force and the deliberate targeting of civilian persons and infrastructure. This has resulted in repeated war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Furthermore, Israel has consistently taken advantage of its armed conflicts and military assaults for “field-testing” its weapons and doctrines of warfare against Palestinian and Lebanese civilians, in partnership with its research institutes. Israel thus gives its military industry a comparative advantage on the global market in the pursuit of profits needed to sustain its occupation, colonialism and apartheid.
A comprehensive military embargo on Israel is long overdue. It forms a crucial step towards ending Israel’s unlawful and criminal use of force against the Palestinian people and other peoples and states in the region and it constitutes an effective, non-violent measure to pressure Israel to comply with its obligations under international law by:
1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands (1967) and dismantling the Wall;
2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.
The Congress of South African Trade Union further joins the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), the largest coalition of Palestinian civil society organizations in calling upon all people of conscience, movements and organizations worldwide to support this Palestinian call for a mandatory comprehensive military embargo on Israel and to pressure governments, multilateral bodies and the UN as well as private and public companies and institutions, to:
1) Cease forthwith any provision to Israel of arms and related matériel of all types, including the sale or transfer of weapons and ammunitions, military vehicles and equipment, para-military police equipment, including dual-use equipment, and spare parts for the aforementioned, and also cease the provision of all types of equipment and supplies and grants of licensing arrangements for the manufacture or maintenance of the aforementioned;
2) Stop all military and dual-use imports (equipment, assistance and munitions) from Israel;
3) Stop the transfer of military products to and from Israel through national ports, territory and airspace;
4) Stop cooperation with the Israeli army, military companies, and military-related R&D projects, including joint ventures (whether bilateral or multilateral);
5) Halt all military-related training and consultancies with the Israeli army, military companies and academic research institutions;
6) End all military aid to Israel;
7) Refrain from any cooperation with Israel in the manufacture and development of nuclear weapons and mobilize for a nuclear-free Middle East;
Long live Palestine!
Long live international workers solidarity!