Australia Palestine Advocacy Network (APAN), a national organisation of Palestine solidarity groups, religious organisations, trade unions, peace groups and individuals has decided to sign on to the international boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign.
Previously, APAN had only expressed general support for the BDS campaign, noting it was a valid and non-violent political tactic. It has not endorsed or advocated it. Last November, at its annual general meeting (AGM), APAN decided against changing its position to consult with its affiliates.
Since then, a number of developments prompted APAN's executive to revise its position on BDS at its AGM on October 25.
The failure and collapse of the “peace process” between Israel and Palestine, initiated by the US Secretary of State John Kerry, in April 2014.
According to APAN, an anonymous US official (widely-believed to be US Special Envoy Martin Indyk), “the primary sabotage” of the negotiations was Israel's announcement that it would build 14,000 new settlement housing units in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
“It is noteworthy that, since 1993, the main outcome of a succession of the US-brokered 'peace processes' has been to normalise the process of colonisation and displacement that is destroying the territorial basis of Palestinian statehood and marginalising Palestinian moderates who call for a negotiated end to the conflict.”
Gaza was the second reason cited as a cause for APAN to change its position.
Israel's 2014 assault, which led to more than 2000 dead including 500 children, as well the immense destruction of residential and other infrastructure, was a catastrophe.
APAN cites a United Nations report on Gaza, released in September, which stated that Gaza could become uninhabitable by 2020 due to “ongoing de-development, eight years of economic blockade and three military operations in the past six years”.
The same report noted that already 95% of Gaza's water supply is “not safe to drink” and that, even before the destruction of Palestinian infrastructure in Operation Protective Edge, its electricity supply was insufficient to meet 40% of its demand.
The last reason given for APAN's change of mind was the Israeli election held earlier this year.
“In March, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was re-elected on a platform of continued settlement expansion, explicit opposition to Palestinian statehood and naked appeals to anti-Arab racism”, APAN said.
“It is noteworthy that his commitment to Israel's settlement enterprise, the siege of Gaza and the demolition of Palestinian communities reflects a broad consensus within Israel's Knesset [parliament] which is shared by all of its 'centrist' parties, including the Zionist Union.
“The foregoing developments have convinced APAN that it can no longer advocate for an end to the occupation and a just, peaceful solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict without also advocating for a credible non-violent means of opposing the structural nature of Israel's oppression and violence towards the Palestinian people.
The motion to “endorse” and “advocate” BDS of Israeli and international institutions complicit in violations of human rights and international law in Israel and Palestine was unanimously endorsed at the APAN AGM of October 25.
APAN also used the opportunity to reaffirm that it is opposed to racism in all forms, including anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. It said it supports BDS as a non-violent means of ending the occupation and securing a just peace in Israel-Palestine.
The motion concluded: “APAN understands that BDS targets need to be carefully chosen in order to support the work of Palestinian and Israeli peace organisations.”