Mandate and Dunnes Anti-Apartheid Strikers call on EU to suspend trade agreement with Israel

Friday 22 March 2024
  • Workers urged to attend National March for Palestine on Saturday, 23rd March at the Garden of Remembrance.

Mandate Trade Union and the Dunnes Stores Anti-Apartheid Strikers from 1984-1987 have called on the EU to immediately suspend the the EU-Israel Association Agreement as well as all bilateral treaties in light of grave violations of human rights by the Israeli government.

Article 2 of the EU-Israel Association Agreement includes an “essential elements” human rights clause which Israel has breached, according to shop steward from the Dunnes Anti-Apartheid Strike, Karen Gearon.

“The International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled on Friday, 26th January that it is plausible that Israel’s acts could amount to genocide against 2.3 million Palestinians. Two months later and nothing has changed, other than more innocent people have been killed, maimed and starved. Over 30,000 Palestinians are dead, including 13,450 children, 94 journalists and 136 UNRWA aid workers. More than 1.7 million people have been displaced, and 93 percent are facing crisis levels of hunger. Yet, still Israel is afforded preferential treatment in its trade with the EU. This has to change,” said Karen Gearon.

The EU is Israel’s largest trading partner, with trade amounting to more than €46 billion in 2023. Israel also a participant in the Horizon Europe project, where Israeli institutions can apply for funding under this €95 billion research and innovation scheme.

Mandate Interim General Secretary Jonathan Hogan says this and other trade agreements must be suspended.

“Ireland is a signatory to the Genocide Convention, as are most if not all countries in the EU. This means we all have an obligation to take whatever steps are necessary to prevent a genocide from occurring. We cannot on the one hand sign up to such conventions, and on the other continue to military and weapon transfers with the country accused of imposing a genocide,” said Mr Hogan.

Mandate has joined with trade unions across Europe by signing a letter calling for strong sanctions on Israel and for the restoration of cuts made by EU countries to the UNRWA.

Karen Gearon added: “We cannot be complicit in genocide, ethnic cleansing or apartheid.

“We all must do everything in our power to prevent the continuation of the bombardment of the people of Palestine. Right now aid agencies are being starved of vital resources and we’re calling for that to be restored immediately.

“The death of one innocent civilian is one death too many. We’re calling on all workers with a conscience who can attend Saturday’s March for Palestine in Dublin to make every effort to come along. We cannot allow politicians to turn their eyes away from the ongoing massacre in Gaza, and we need to let them know that we will make this an election issue.”

The Dunnes Anti-Apartheid Strikers are united in their support for the Palestinian people, according to Karen Gearon:

“In 1984 we went on strike for our right to handle goods from South Africa because of how it treated people of colour. We ended up on strike for two years and nine months, and faced attacks from all corners of Irish society for our principled stance, but, in the end, history has proven us right. Apartheid is wrong, whether it was imposed by South Africa, or, as is currently the case, by Israel, and we have an obligation to do what we can to end the human rights abuses taking place through Israeli occupation and oppression.”

The March for Palestine takes place at 1pm on Saturday, 23rd March. Mandate members are asked to assemble at Head Office, O’Lehane House, 9 Cavendish Row, Dublin 1 at 12:30pm.