Israel's Labor Party snubs Socialist International, leaving Palestinians to dominate [and] Meretz to forestall a decision naming Israel an apartheid state.
MK Shelly Yacimovich
Avshlom Vilan attended for MeretzFor years on end, as a founding member, the Israeli Labor party was an active player at the Socialist International conventions. Those days have passed. Not only did party leader MK Shelly Yacimovich not send a representative to the weekend meeting in South Africa, she went as far as to instruct former MK Colette Avital not to fly to Cape Town, despite Avital's willingness to cover her own expenses.
Due to Labor's absence, Meretz remained the only Israeli representatives at the convention, and could do little to soften a resolution highly critical of Israel's policies. [Not so little actually; read on.]
The Socialist International is an organization uniting parties with similar platforms such as the British Labor Party, the French Socialist Party, the German SPD, and other western social democratic parties. This year's convention in Cape Town was attended by 120 parties from 80 states.
.... Yacomovich's current stance continues a trend that began a decade ago, when the party stopped paying its membership fees to the International, which caused it being demoted to observer status. Meretz, who opted to continue paying the fees, remains a full-fledged member.
In practice, Israel was represented at the convention by former Meretz MK Avshalom Vilan. Vilan said that Fatah's Nabil Shaath and Mustafa Barghouti of the Palestinian National Initiative led an extremist line in the meet, demanding that the resolution on the Israeli-Palestinian issue would include the assertion that Israel is an apartheid state. ...
"The Palestinians said that their condition in the West Bank is worse than what the blacks suffered under apartheid," Vilan said. "I told the participants that there is settler violence, and there is an occupation that the peace camp in Israeli is battling against, but there is no apartheid. I said that categorically, this kind of talk cannot be accepted, even by Meretz people."
Vilan decided to appeal to the current chairman, former Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou. "I told him that they're shooting themselves in the leg, and that we will leave the convention if the word apartheid is mentioned in the resolution." Since all decision[s] must be accepted unanimously, Papandreou began searching for a compromise. Eventually, the term was indeed dropped, but the Palestinians insisted that the call to boycott settlement products remain as part of the resolution. [Partners for Progressive Israel supports an economic boycott of West Bank settlements.]
On Sunday, Vilan said that the Labor Party simply abandoned the political arena at the convention. "This took place in South Africa, a country that is also a symbol," Vilan said, "prime ministers and foreign secretaries arrived from all over the world, and they all asked me: 'where is the [Israeli] Labor Party?'" ....