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PACBI-Dutch pro-Palestinian conference shelved after Histadrut intervenes

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Haaretz | November 28, 2007

Dutch pro-Palestinian conference shelved after Histadrut intervenes

The Netherlands' largest trade union has shelved its plans to hold a Palestinian solidarity conference Thursday, the 60th anniversary of the UN vote on the Partition Plan. Last week's annulment, which ended concerns of a boycott against Israel, came after the Histadrut labor federation insisted it be invited, Haaretz has learned.

"We regret that the planned event upset certain people," ABVAKABO FNV's spokesman said in a statement explaining why the conference was postponed indefinitely. "We don't aim for a boycott against Israeli products and wish to take no political standpoint."

Another spokesman from the union, which has 365,000 members, told Haaretz, "ABVAKABO didn't decide to rule out a boycott call, nor do we intend to do so."

Dr. Ronny Naftaniel, who heads the pro-Zionist Center for Information and Documentation on Israel (CIDI), said he harbored deep mistrust for the conference. "The involvement of British trade unions and the role of the Dutch Palestine Committee, which is known for its campaign to boycott Israeli goods, would have turned the meeting into an anti-Israel event," he said.

Naftaniel was also concerned about the designated date - exactly 60 years after the United Nations decision that formed the basis for the State of Israel. "Most probably the conference would have ended with resolutions asking for a boycott of Israeli goods and institutions," he added.

Another cause for concern was the fact that the Histadrut was excluded. Anticipating a boycott vote, CIDI asked its members to register for the Rotterdam conference to tip the balance.

A prominent activist working to block the conference said "a lot of silent diplomacy, involving the Histadrut and Minister Isaac Herzog," was involved in the postponement.

Avital Shapira-Shabirow, who heads the Histadrut's international department, confirmed she spoke with ABVAKABO's spokesman about the conference. "I told him the event was counterproductive and that in any event we should have been invited," Shapira-Shabirow said.

Posted on 28-11-2007

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