The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) welcomes the announcement of an Egyptian-mediated cease-fire between Israel and Hamas on Thursday the 20th of May 2021. Israel and Hamas have been fighting for 11 days after tensions escalated in Jerusalem over evictions of Palestinian families and the scattering of worshippers at the city’s al-Aqsa mosque. The people of Palestine who had spent the 11 days huddled in fear of Israeli shootings poured into Gaza’s streets, embracing one another in celebration in front of bombed-out buildings and along streets covered in wreckage.
At least 233 Palestinians have been killed, including 65 children and 39 women, and more than 1700 others injured, in Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip that started on May 10th. The attacks have left destroyed buildings, huge swaths of the territory without electricity or water, and forced tens of thousands to flee their homes.
COSATU supports the cease-fire as a step in the right direction if credible political process will then take place. We further commend the global progressive pro-Palestine movement for standing behind Palestine and condemning Israeli atrocities and the continued acts of ethnic genocide in Gaza. Whilst we appreciate that the cease-fire in Gaza allowed 2 million Palestinians to sleep “peacefully” on Thursday night, it is “not enough”. The world must now tackle the difficult issues of Jerusalem’s future and achieve an independent Palestinian state. Whilst a cease-fire is good, it doesn’t address the core issue that started the violence.
We want to see the people of Palestine free and living in their independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. The last direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians took place in 2014. The Palestinians broke off relations with former U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration in December 2017 after he recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Trump further angered the Palestinians by presenting a two-state peace plan that would have required significant Palestinian concessions on territory and sovereignty, moved the U.S. Embassy there from Tel Aviv, cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority and rescinded a long-standing legal opinion that Israeli settlement activity is illegitimate under international law.
COSATU urges the International Criminal Court (ICC) to move speedily with the investigation of allegations against Israel, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and the crime of apartheid in occupied Palestinian territories as a long-overdue step toward justice. In support of the Palestinian struggle, COSATU and Africa4Palestine will host a virtual engagement under the title “Africa in solidarity with Palestine” on Tuesday the 25th May 2021, at 14:00. More details regarding the engagement will be communicated in due course.
We call on all workers, activists, internationalists, and justice-loving people of the world to join us and amplify the voice of the Palestinian struggle as we fight for their freedom. We have an opportunity to not just offer solidarity in words but to commit to political action, grassroots action, local action, and international action that will give us what justice requires – and that is a free Palestine.
Cosatu Head Office