SOLIDAR mission to Palestine and Israel – Day 1
SOLIDAR Secretary General Conny Reuter and International Cooperation Coordinator Andrea Maksimovic, together with Sergio Bassoli the Chair of the International Cooperation Committee are currently on a visit to Israel and Palestine. The four-day mission encompasses meetings with SOLIDAR member organisations working in the field, with partners in both Israel and Palestine, trade unions and other key civil society actors engaged in working on the issue. The objective of the mission is to hear from these organisations their views and opinions on the prospects for peace, with a view to orientating SOLIDAR’s work in the area.
“Our first few days have underlined the urgency of civil society engagement for peace in the Middle East. The isolation of the Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza, the continuing frustration at the endless waiting at check points, the human tragedy of separation represented by the Wall, the political marginalisation of the peace movement in Israel – these factors are all the more reasons for more engagement of European civil society together with our partners in the process of building popular support for a just solution to the conflict.
Whilst the people we have spoken to have a range of opinions on the fine detail of what this solution would look like, there are many points of view which are shared, in particular the importance of dialogue between the two sides based on commonly shared principles of respect for human rights, mutual solidarity and equality. Many spoke of the difficulties on the national political scene which is understandably pre-occupying much of the civil society forces.
The current economic and social realities faced by Arab workers inside Israel was the subject of our discussions with trade unions and labour support organisations such as Kavolved and the Workers Action Committee. The Israeli trade union Histradut spoke of their efforts to counter the Israeli government policy to ensure that by 2010, the construction sector only employs Israelis, a clear breach of international obligations on discrimination and a severe economic blow to the Palestinians who comprise the majority of the workforce.
The effect of the building of the wall on Palestinian’s access to water and arable land, and the consequences for the agriculture industry were highlighted as some of the most pressing issues in meetings with representatives of the Palestinian NGO network. In addition, last year’s Silver Rose Award Winner Parent’s Circle spoke of their continuing efforts to educate the Palestinian and Israeli public of the urgent need for a peaceful solution. The Israeli Committee against Home Demolitions called for European civil society to put pressure on our governments to urge Israel to seriously engage in peace negotiations. Above all, the first day’s impressions leave us with the distinct impression that our support is needed and welcome.”
You can read the report of day two’s mission on the SOLIDAR website tomorrow.