Students vote to support justice and human rights for Palestine by backing BDS campaign

Today, the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) has voted to support justice and human rights for Palestine at the annual student Congress in Galway. The motion came before over 250 students from across Ireland voting to join the global movement for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel, until it ends the occupation and complies with international law.

Speaking after the vote, USI President Michael Kerrigan said,

“The students of Ireland have today made the historic decision to support the people of Palestine. This movement attempts to exert economic and political pressure on Israel until it’s illegal siege of Gaza and its illegal occupation of the West Bank, and agrees to abide by International law and all UN Resolutions against it.”

Robert Murtagh from Queen’s University Belfast Students’ Union, the student who proposed the motion, said,

“I’m happy to see this motion pass today. Let the students of Ireland continue follow in Madiba’s footsteps and stand with the people of Palestine in their struggle for freedom. We must join with our Union comrades at Trinity, NUIG, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, NUS, Universities and Colleges Union, NUS-USI and many others in supporting justice and human rights for the people of Palestine. We always have been and must continue to be on the right side of history.”

The motion calls for USI to inform members of the background to the situation in Israel/Palestine and to commemorate Palestine Solidarity Day, working with any relevant groups such as student societies and civil society organisations local to each of our campuses.

USI will also support an Academic Boycott of Israeli Higher Education institutions complicit in normalising, providing intellectual cover for, and supporting settler-colonialism. This includes policies that amount to Apartheid, encouraging recruitment to the Israeli Defence Forces, and providing support to the militarist occupation of Palestine.

USI is the national representative body for the 374,000 students in third level education on the Island of Ireland. The annual Congress is taking place from the 3rd to the 6th of April in Ballinasloe, Galway. Motions being debated include national affairs, welfare, academic affairs, the Irish language and international affairs.

IA 2 : Justice and human rights for Palestine

Proposed by Queen’s University, Belfast Students’ Union

Congress notes :

That the state of Israel is involved in a brutal military occupation of the Palestinian territories

The occupation is responsible for systematic, widespread and ongoing human rights abuses against the local Palestinian population, including destruction of homes, theft of land and water resources, imprisonment without trial, torture of prisoners, and construction of Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land.

That the State of Israel is in violation of international law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Charter of the United Nations. The settlements have also been declared illegal by the International Court of Justice and the UK government with Amnesty International stating that “Israel’s settlement policy is inherently discriminatory and has resulted in grave human rights violations including destruction of homes, forced evictions, unlawful killings, arbitrary detentions and collective punishment”.

Congress believes :

That Israel should end its occupation of the Palestinian territories and allow the return of Palestinian refugees in accordance with international law.

That the Palestinian people are entitled to the same human rights, dignity of person, self-determination, security and parity of esteem as all other peoples in the world today.

That a boycott of Israel’s entire regime of oppression, including all of the Israeli companies and institutions that are involved in its violations of international law, is a reasonable non-violent activity that can be taken to register opposition to such crimes.

That the Palestinian led BDS campaign does not target anyone or anything based on identity, but rather based solely on complicity in denying Palestinian rights and that BDS is a strategy for effective solidarity, not a dogma or ideology and certainly not an attack upon Jewish communities or individuals.

Congress mandates Officer Board :

To inform MOs of the background to the situation in Israel/Palestine and to commemorate Palestine Solidarity Day, working with any relevant groups such as student societies and civil society organisations local to each of our campuses.

To support an Academic Boycott of Israeli Higher Education institutions complicit in normalising, providing intellectual cover for, and supporting settler-colonialism. This includes policies that amount to Apartheid, encouraging recruitment to the Israeli Defence Forces, and providing support to the militarist occupation of Palestine.

To lobby our university to divest itself from and terminate any contracts with companies that are complicit in the occupation of the Palestinian territories and violation of Palestinian human rights more widely

To join the global movement for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it ends the occupation and complies with international law.

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