By Aaron Kiely, NUS NEC
This week the National Executive Council of the National Union of Students will be debating Palestine. I hope to persuade my colleagues to support a proposal I have put forward – alongside other NUS NEC members including the LGBT Officer and Black Students’ Officer-, which would commit NUS to oppose the illegal occupation of Palestine and also call for an end to the siege on Gaza.
Regrettably NUS has remained outside of those supporting international law in recent years. This meeting will be a chance to redress this.
The starting point should always be the full application of international law, including UN resolutions, and for the human rights of all to be equally respected.
I believe it is important for NUS to reflect the views of the overwhelming majority of students that want to see their national union support human rights across the world – including in Palestine.
I will be arguing for NUS should join the growing political consensus in Britain that Israel’s siege on Gaza is wrong and should end without delay. As the British Prime Minister David Cameron put it in July 2010: “people in Gaza are living under constant attacks and pressure in an open-air prison.” In September 2010 the leader of the Labour Party Ed Miliband added: “the Gaza blockade must be lifted and we must strain every sinew to work to make that happen.” As a first step it is crucial for NUS to call for an end to the siege on Gaza, which 1.5 million Palestinians have suffered under for the past 5 years.
Joining the mainstream also requires NUS to oppose the illegal expansion of settlements. As the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office website points out, Israel’s ongoing settlement expansions are “not only illegal under international law” but also “a major barrier to our pursuit of a lasting peace agreement in the Middle East”.
Now is the time for NUS to finally join our brothers and sisters in the trade union movement and actively campaign for peace and justice in the Middle East. We need to catch up with organisations such as the Trade Union Congress and many individual Trade Unions who have been campaigning for many years for the implementation of international law on Palestine.
I hope that this week the NUS NEC takes this historic opportunity to support justice for Palestine by resolving to:
“Oppose the illegal occupation of Palestine in line with UN resolutions and to call for an end to the siege on Gaza”.