ITUC General Secretary solidarity visit to Israel

During a visit to Israel and affiliate Histadrut this week, ITUC General Secretary Luc Triangle pressed for a ceasefire, the increase of humanitarian aid for the people of Gaza, the return of all hostages and support of the rights of all workers in Israel and Palestine.

This visit followed a mission to the West Bank in May, where the ITUC expressed its solidarity with Palestinian workers. Working people from both sides are the victims of the ongoing conflict and the current war.

Luc Triangle’s work in Israel was focused around three pillars: meetings with political leaders, meeting trade unions at company and national levels and a visit to the region where the atrocities took place on 7 October.

In the meetings with Israeli President Yitzhak Herzog and Labour Party (HaAvoda) leader Yair Golan, Luc Triangle pressed the need for an urgent ceasefire in combination with the immediate release of all hostages, and the continuation and increase of humanitarian aid to the population of Gaza. He also pushed the need for a concrete implementation of the two-state solution with security guarantees and responsibilities for both states. Importantly, both political leaders recognised the need for urgent action from the Israeli government to address the situation of more than 200,000 Palestinian workers who lost their jobs and income after 7 October.

Luc Triangle also shared his experiences of the mission to the West Bank and his view that if no action is taken against the daily humiliation and intimidation of Palestinians there, extreme violence might also become a reality in West Bank cities.

Luc Triangle said: “The ongoing spiral of violence must stop, as it only serves to empower extremists on both sides. Dialogue, based on equal rights, dignity and respect for both Israelis and Palestinians must replace aggression to ensure justice and security in line with international law. The ITUC supports the call of Histadrut for the return of all hostages, urgent elections in Israel, an end to the war and violence.. The current Netanyahu government only feeds extremism on both sides, and it has polarised Israeli society and created deep divisions.

“During a visit to the hostage rehabilitation unit in Tel Aviv, I heard from a 65 year-old woman about what she went through during 52 days of being held hostage. I also met a grandson whose life now turns around getting his grandfather freed after his grandmother was already released. I went to the border between Israel, Egypt and Gaza and witnessed the supply of trucks carrying food and material to the Gaza strip. I went to the kibbutz Kfar Aza and the Nova music festival grounds where hundreds of people lost their lives during the atrocities."

“But I also saw signs of hope among young people and in workplaces where Jewish, Arab, Christian and Palestinian workers come together and organise their trade union activities. All of them expressed the deep wish for peace, security and the end of all violence. They all wished for a future where freedoms, rights and democracy prevail. The ITUC supports all political actors and Histadrut that want to work in that direction.

“Working people on both sides are paying a huge price in this conflict, which has already passed its critical point. It is imperative also that the international community steps up to facilitate dialogue and develop a roadmap to finally bring peace and balance. Building trust again cannot be left alone to the Israelis and the Palestinians; the world needs to step up and act.

“The ITUC is convinced that trade unions can and should be gamechangers in the current difficult context. Trade unions should lead the way. We will continue to work with our two affiliates in Israel and Palestine, Histadrut and the PGFTU, towards a sustainable solution of peace founded on the principles of human rights, security, respect, freedoms and democracy, ensuring a viable two-state solution,” concluded Luc Triangle.