Aug 31, 2023

In early August, the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network and Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA organised a study tour for seven Australian unionists to visit Palestine. The group visited Jerusalem, Nablus, Ramallah, Bethlehem and Tel Aviv, at a time of great political tension on both sides of the Wall.

The study tour met with a women’s organic farming cooperative.

The focus was to understand the situation of Palestinian workers in the current political context of the Israeli state and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The delegation met with the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) affiliated Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions, the General Union of Palestinian Unions, the New Unions in Palestine and the Democracy and Workers Rights Center.

Teachers in Palestine have been engaged in months-long industrial action against non-payment of wages, and the group met with the General Union of Palestinian Teachers.

On the Israeli side, the study tour met with the Israeli union federation, the Histadrut; the Workers Advice Center, which organises workers from the occupied territories in Israeli enterprises; and with human rights NGOs. Shrinking democratic space in Israel and the Occupied Territories is a key issue, along with intensified military attacks on Palestinian cities and towns, and the expansion of illegal settlements on Palestinian land.

Danae Bosler from Victorian Trades Hall Council and secretary of the Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA board, took part in the delegation. She said: “A highlight of the trip was visiting a women’s organic farming cooperative in Deir al Sudan, a village not far from Ramallah, which receives APHEDA funding so the women’s co-op can grow and manage their own produce for sale. The women have overcome challenges ranging from sexism in their community, to access to water, supplies and storage facilities. The women are truly mighty and fierce, and despite language barriers, it was clear our meeting brought a touch of international solidarity as we shared laughter over a traditional lunch.

“The MA’AN Development Center provides the women equipment, technical training and support, for example on governance and collective decision-making in cooperatives. MA’AN is one of Palestine’s largest national NGOs and proudly APHEDA contributed their first $50,000 over 30 years ago when they were setting up.”

With the very high unemployment of Palestinian women, this project to build women’s co-ops in the West Bank receives Australian government and Australian Education Union funds.

Dates for a study tour in 2024 are now being considered. Contact for more information.



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