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Source: International Labour Office (ILO)
15 June 2009



Ninth sitting
Friday, 12 June 2009, 10.05 a.m.
Presidents: Mr Allam and Mr Zellhoefer


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REPORTS OF THE CHAIRPERSON OF THE GOVERNING BODY AND OF THE DIRECTOR-GENERAL: DISCUSSION (CONT.)

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Original Arabic: Ms ABDEL HADY (Minister of Manpower and Migration, Egypt)...

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Before concluding, I would like to refer to the Report of the Director-General concerning the situation of Arab workers of the occupied Arab territories, and to express my thanks to the Organization for its efforts to help the Palestinian people in the occupied Arab territories in the West Bank, Gaza and Al-Quds and the Arab inhabitants of the occupied Syrian Golan. Once again, we express our utter rejection of the discriminatory and repressive policy and practices of the Israeli occupying authorities against the workers in the occupied Palestinian territories, and condemn the brutal military aggression recently perpetrated by Israel against Gaza, causing the deaths of thousands of unarmed civilians, including women and children, leaving hundreds of thousands homeless, and destroying houses, factories and infrastructure in general, as well as public services, exacerbating poverty and unemployment and undermining social services and decent work.

We call on all institutions of the international community, donors and international organizations to provide the necessary resources in support of the plan of the Palestinian Authority adopted at the International Conference in Support of the Palestinian Economy for the Reconstruction of Gaza in Sharm el-Sheikh in March 2009.

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Mr SHAHMIR (Government, Islamic Republic of Iran)...

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A heartfelt debt of gratitude is due to the Director-General, Mr Somavia, and the Office, for the rather impartial Report on the situation of Palestine and other Arab territories.

The Report depicts a dismal human, economic and social situation in occupied Palestine, particularly in Gaza, following the devastating 2008 military invasion by the occupying forces, the scars of which will remain for some time ahead.

The Report also depicts somewhat realistically all the ingredients of a humanitarian catastrophe in the occupied territories, such as closure measures, the 725 km separation wall dismantling the Palestinian social fabric, the continued expansion of intensified Israeli settlement in the occupied territory, violence and its impact on Palestinian livelihood and battered enterprises, leaving tens of thousands of people out of work, and the opaque and restrictive regime of permits which control the movement of persons. May God Almighty bring peace and prosperity to the people of Palestine.

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Mr MONANI MAGAYA (Minister of Labour, Public Service and Human Resources Development, Sudan) ...

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Lastly, the suffering of the Palestinian workers and people is a serious issue. Moreover this suffering is mounting every day because of the inhumane practices and repression of the Israeli occupation. In this situation of the financial crisis, we hope that the Palestinian workers and their families will get better attention and more assistance from our Organiza-tion. We also urge for the establishment of a Palestinian State with its capital at Jerusalem.

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Mr KARA (Worker, Israel) ...

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As in the past, the Histadrut continues to support the Middle East peace process. With the advice and support of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), the Histadrut has signed an agreement with the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU). For many years, the Histadrut and the PGFTU did not succeed in settling financial disputes because of harsh political conditions. Under this ITUC agreement, these disputes have now been resolved. In addition, the Histadrut continues to offer legal guidance to Palestinian workers who require advice and improved working conditions. This has been confirmed by the Director-General's Report.

In this regard, it is important to mention that in October 2007, following the Histadrut's petition to apply Israeli labour laws to Palestinian workers in the settlements, a panel of high court justices accepted the petition and ruled that Palestinians working for Israeli employers in West Bank settlements should be given benefits provided by Israel.

We hope that all workers in the Middle East benefit from the peace process and this Conference.

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Original Arabic: Mr ZLETNI (Worker, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya) ...

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We would like to thank the Director-General for having sent the annual mission to monitor the situation of workers in Palestine and the other occupied Arab territories. We would like to thank that mission for its efforts. We profoundly deplore the tragic situation endured by the Palestinian people as a result of the inhumane practices of the Israeli occupation authorities, and the crimes and massacres perpetrated recently in the Gaza Strip, as well as their attempts to Judaize the city of Al-Quds.

We would like to point out that the report of the mission failed to reflect that tragic situation, which was recognized by many of the other international missions that visited the area recently.

We are surprised to see that the report calls the Palestinian people who are the rightful owners of the land "inhabitants", and the same is done in the case of the people of the occupied Syrian Golan. We are also surprised at the failure to mention openly those who are responsible for this tragedy and these crimes against the Palestinian people.

Once again we confirm our total support for the Palestinians. legitimate right of return and self-determination, and the right to build an independent Palestinian state, with the holy city of Al-Quds as its capital. We also affirm our support for Syria in recovering the occupied Golan, and reject any attempts by the occupying authority to annex the Golan. We also support Lebanon in recovering the rest of its occupied territories, the Shebaa farms and Kafr Shuba.

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Tenth sitting
Friday, 12 June 2009, 2.30 p.m.
Presidents: Mr Hossain, Mr Palma Caicedo, Mr Zellhoefer


REPORTS OF THE CHAIRPERSON OF THE GOVERNING BODY AND OF THE DIRECTOR-GENERAL: DISCUSSION (CONT.)

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Original Arabic: Mr LOUH (Minister of Labour and Social Security, Algeria) ...

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On this, the 90th anniversary of the establishment of the ILO and World Day Against Child Labour, which is celebrated on 12 June each year, I would like to draw the attention of the international community to the inhuman practices that the occupying authorities inflict, on a daily basis, on the Palestinian people, as well as the very serious infringements of the rights of Palestinian children, including the right to life.

The worsening in their living conditions, which were already unbearable, has been exacerbated by the bombings and by the embargo on Palestinian workers, which means that they are unable to reach their workplace or use their means of production.

We call on the international community, the United Nations and the parties that are sponsoring the peace process to shoulder their responsibilities in order to restore the rights of the Palestinian people, in particular the right to establish their own independent State in the territory of Palestine, with Al-Quds as capital, in keeping with the constitutive decisions of international law.

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Original Arabic: Mr HUSAIN (Worker, Bahrain) ...

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With regard to the crisis experienced by the Palestinian people, during the first quarter of this year the entire world witnessed the effects of the Israeli aggression on the people of the Gaza strip, which affected everyone, and especially the poorest and most vulnerable. Our organization, which is celebrating its 90th anniversary, has a moral duty to help these afflicted people to cope with the aftermath of the war and live a decent life, and provide decent work to hundreds of thousands of Palestinian workers. The world must not allow more years to go by without this people being able to attain its legitimate dream of self-determination and the establishment of an independent State.

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Original French : Mr DIALLO (Minister of Labour, Administrative Reform and Civil Service, Guinea) ...

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With regard to the occupied Arab territories, my delegation unreservedly condemns the repressive practices of the Israeli occupation forces against the Arab population of Palestine.

It fully shares the conclusions of the Report of the Director-General on the need for a real commitment by the international community not only for a fair, lasting and overall peace, which would bring an end to the occupation, but also for the creation of a viable Palestinian State living in peace and security alongside Israel.

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Original Arabic: Mr DJEMEM (Representative, International Confederation of Arab Trade Unions) ...

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We have looked at the Director-General's Report concerning the situation of Arab workers in Palestine and in the other occupied Arab territories. The report addresses certain realities which prove without a doubt that Israel continues to ignore United Nations resolutions by continuing its occupation of Palestine, the Syrian Golan, the Shebaa Farms and Kfarchouba in Lebanon. The Report referred to the aggressive attitude adopted by Israel, which continues to kill and massacre the Palestinian people and to confine them in Gaza and other areas of occupied Palestine. They have built a racist wall and confiscated Palestinian land.

The Report refers to Israel as an occupying country that flouts international law. Native inhabitants have become foreigners on their own land. We are asking the international community to help the workers and people of Palestine to create an independent Palestinian State with Al-Quds as the capital.

We also ask for a withdrawal of the occupying forces from Iraq and for the country's sovereignty and unity to be saved.

We call for the three islands to be returned to Arab sovereignty. We also ask the new American Government to cooperate with the Government of Sudan to solve the problem in Darfur.

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Original Arabic: Mr KABAHA (Worker, Palestine) ...

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It is my pleasure to extend to you the greetings of the Palestinian workers and of the Palestinian people. They ask you to give them greater support because they have a hard life that no human being can endure. They are suffering from the injustice and the terrorism of the Israeli occupation authorities.

The Palestinian workers are being persecuted on a daily basis by the Israeli soldiers; they are arrested, imprisoned or beaten; and they are tortured and humiliated. They have to look for work every day. They say goodbye to their families because they are never sure that they will return safe and sound. They work hard with the sweat of their brow. Unemployment and poverty are rife among the population because the Israeli occupation has set up a military blockade and prevents them from going anywhere. The occupation forces have set up hundreds of roadblocks. They practice the worst forms of racial discrimination; they confiscate land; they build settlements; they destroy houses; they evict people from their homes; they destroy mosques and churches; they work towards making Al-Quds Jewish; and they are building a separation wall. And all these actions are carried out with armed force.

The Palestinian workers thank the Director-General profusely for sending a high-level mission to Palestine. The members of that mission were able to see with their own eyes the Israeli racist practices against the workers and people of Palestine. We thank the ILO for its efforts, but we believe that the ILO should denounce the position of Israel which continues to infringe international resolutions and refuses to establish peace. We call upon the Organization to express greater solidarity with the Palestinian people.

The Director-General's Report describes the plight of Palestinian workers as a true humanitarian disaster, contrary to the Hague Convention of 1907 and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Israel is violating the trade union, human, social and economic rights of the workers and people of Palestine. We can no longer count the number of prisoners in Israeli prisons, a majority of whom are Palestinian workers.

The military aggression and war against Gaza has destroyed the infrastructure, particularly schools and hospitals, as well as thousands of homes. The headquarters of the General Federation of Trade Unions of Palestine was also not spared. Thousands of women, children and the elderly have been forced to leave because they no longer have homes. We have been deprived of electricity and water. Our country has been divided up into pieces and communications have been severed. The Israelis used weapons that have been internationally banned against Gaza, encircling it and imposing a blockade. They have practised ethnic cleansing against the workers and people of Palestine.

This daily terrorism perpetrated by Israel requires international solidarity to force the extreme right government to withdraw its forces from the occupied Palestinian territories and the occupied Arab territories, to eradicate the settlements, to prevent the settlers from destroying the property of Palestinians, and to give the right of return to Palestinians under United Nations resolution 194.

We call on our Organization to speak out against the reality of terrorism and racism in Israel. There can be no lasting and global peace without the creation of a Palestinian State, with its capital as Al-Quds, and the withdrawal of Israeli soldiers from Golan and Southern Lebanon.

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Original Arabic: Mr AHMED ABDELAZIZ GHANDOUR (Worker, Sudan) ...

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The Director-General's Report on the situation of Arab workers of the occupied Arab territories sheds light on a real human tragedy, and a crying shame in a world which is calling for freedom and independence, and respect for human rights.

What has happened in Palestine in general and in the Gaza Strip in particular since the last session of the Conference last year reflects a further deterioration in the situation. The attack on Gaza, the blockade imposed on it, the occupation of the West Bank, and crippling restrictions on its workers, and the continuing occupation of the Golan and south Lebanon, as well as other Arab territories that have been illegally seized, reflect a decline in the values of justice and freedom and the absence of human values, with might prevailing over right.

From this rostrum we call for an end to all forms of occupation of Arab lands and for the creation of an independent Palestinian State, with the holy city of Al-Quds as its capital.

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(The Conference adjourned at 8.15 p.m.)

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