Common declaration – April 2014
UAWC, PNGO, BDS, LRC, PFU, Confédération paysanne
Ramallah, Tuesday April 1st, 2014,
Following a year of common work on the theme of migrant and seasonal farm workers in Palestine between UAWC and the French farmers’ union Confédération Paysanne with the support of the association Echanges & Partenariats, a delegation of Confédération Paysanne members visited Palestine in April 2014. UAWC, Confédération Paysanne, the PFU, the LRC, BDS and the PNGO, reunited in Ramallah, observed that:
The permanent violations against Palestinians’ rights, especially those of rural populations, by the Israeli army is causing profound economic, social and ecological damage in the occupied territories. Indeed, if the plunder of resources is a well-known reality for the whole peasantry throughout the world, in Palestine it takes the form of aggressive harassment, planned and institutionalized long ago by the Israeli occupation. Thus, the Israeli strategy of segregation and replacement and enslavement of the Palestinians involves land colonization, water theft, denial of access to roads, destruction of harvests, livestock shelters and Palestinian homes and direct physical violence against Palestinian civilians. Similarly, any attempt of the peasants to protest is repressed by indefinite imprisonment, eviction or murder.
Thus, farmers are deprived of their basic means of production and even when, despite everything, they manage to produce a sellable product, they face severe difficulties in marketing. Indeed, Israeli agriculture is the archetype of productivist agriculture in the world: intensive production, sold for low prices, subsidized and disconnected from actual needs, which dumps its regular surpluses on Palestinian markets. In addition, Israel controls the borders and prohibits the direct export of Palestinian agricultural products, which could improve the income of farmers. Like wherever it dominates, this agriculture destroys the traditional marketing circuits and creates unfair competition for peasant agricultures that gradually disappear.
In these conditions, rural populations are the first victims of massive poverty and live in unacceptable conditions. To survive, Palestinian farmers have no choice but to work in the Israeli settlements fragmenting the West Bank. These workers work in conditions of modern slavery: abusive daily hours, unsanitary conditions, without employment contracts, for less than half the minimum wage, without social protection, bending to the daily humiliation of checkpoints…. In addition, Israeli employers were able to join forces with Palestinian labor intermediaries who are in permanent competition with each other, to the detriment of workers’ rights and outside of any kind of legal framework.
On the other hand, Israel is organizing the competition between laborers themselves through the importation of Thai workers, which aims to evict the Palestinian workers in favor of migrant labor, which is by definition fragile. These migrant workers are the victims of human trafficking networks so lucrative that the Israeli authorities close their eyes to them.
We reject this type of agriculture based on the exploitation of women and men, plunder of resources, fraud and export as it seeks to destroy peasant agriculture in the world. Indeed, it is also the European peasant agriculture and their workers who are weakened by Israeli exports of which Europe is the largest consumer.
In fact, we also see the involvement of European states in this situation through the many commercial benefits they provide to Israel. The EU contributes to developmental agricultural projects that feed into protecting small-scaled agriculture. We encourage such approach to be extended to cover more agricultural areas especially in area “C”, and not to fund the security forces and industrial zones.
Conscious of the role of the peasantry in the process of national liberation as in social movements in the world, we, members of organizations together today, commit to:
- Support each other in the struggle for the acquisition of food and political sovereignty of the peoples we represent, in accordance with the objectives stated by La Via Campesina,
- Protect and enhance the internationally recognized rights such as international conventions on human rights, refugees’ rights, political prisoners’ rights and workers’ rights,
- Continue our participation in BDS, the international campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions of Israel as a whole.
BDS / PNGO: Issam Bakr – or
Confédération paysanne: Emmanuel Aze – , Romain Balandier – , Cécile Luttenschlager – and Ouessale El Assimi – .
LRC: Mohamed Ghazawna –
PFU: Dawood Hammoudeh –
UAWC: Samah Darwish –