In Human Rights, International, Middle East

This week, following my arrival in Oslo, Norway on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, I met and spoke with Ingunn Eriksen, Advisor on International Solidarity of the Norwegian Union of Municipal and General Employees (referred to in Norwegian as Fagforbundet). Fagforbundet has formally acknowledged Israel to be an apartheid state and has adopted a policy of boycotting Israel.

Fagforbundet is Norway’s largest union, with over 400,000 members in a country of 5.5 million people. It acknowledged Israel to be an apartheid state in 2013, years before Western human rights organizations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, finally accused Israel of committing the crime against humanity of apartheid.

The full text of Fagforbundet’s formal policy on Palestine and Israeli apartheid appears at the end of this article.

Ingunn and I discussed Fagforbundet’s implementation of its boycott policy and its efforts to persuade Norway’s government to take concrete steps to hold Israel accountable for committing the crime of apartheid. You can watch and listen to our discussion here:


Norwegian Union of Municipal and General Employees National Congress October 2022 – Resolution concerning Palestine


The 55-year long occupation of Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, in violation of international humanitarian law, has long been met with empty phrases while the situation
for the Palestinians is deteriorating. The definition of apartheid is systematic and institutionalized oppression, characterized by inhuman actions, where one ethnic group dominates another. Many, such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, B’T Selem and UN special rapporteurs in the occupied areas, claim that these criteria have been met with overwhelming certainty. Despite conventions, UN resolutions and condemnations from the international society, Israel has been able to continue and further reinforce its oppression of the Palestinians. Most recently through the closure of Palestinian human rights organizations and the attacks on civilians in August last year.

The absence of sanctions from Norway is a betrayal of the Palestinians while at the same time undermining the role of humanitarian law in the international legal system. The Støre Cabinet and previous governments have said that Norway will contribute to a world order based on international humanitarian law. To achieve this, Norway must contribute with
more than statements expressing concern.

The Norwegian Union of Municipal and General Employees will therefore:

• Work for an international boycott of Israel
• Mobilize to ensure that the UN Independent Committee of Inquiry into Palestine (COL) investigate apartheid as the cause of Israel’s ongoing violations of humanitarian law and human rights.
• Urge Norway and the Norwegian government to take action to help stop the oppression of the Palestinian people. Violations of international humanitarian law must have consequences. Norway and other states must commit to implement measures in national and international forums, which holds the Israeli state accountable for its crimes.
• Urge Norway to work actively to ensure that persons suspected of apartheid crimes are prosecuted, and that victims of human rights violations and crimes against humanity receive full compensation.
• Work to ensure that Norway implements the UN Security Council resolution 2334 on the settlements in violation of humanitarian law, in their policy, and not directly or indirectly contributes to the maintenance of the settlements through investments or contracts with companies involved in violations of humanitarian law or human rights.
• Urge the Norwegian government to support human rights advocates who are persecuted for their work. For many years, Norway has been a champion of human rights defenders, including taking a leading role in the UN promoting resolutions in support of human rights defenders. Most recently, in April 2022, a resolution on human rights advocates in conflict situations, promoted by Norway, was adopted by the UN Human Rights Council.

Norway should:

• Go beyond their statements condemning the Israeli criminalization and persecution of prominent Palestinian human rights organizations.
• Call on Israel to immediately withdraw the terrorist designation.

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