A local branch of the United Auto Workers has become the first U.S. labor organization to join the international movement to boycott Israel, according to liberal groups.

UAW Local 2865, which represents teaching assistants at the University of California, voted to join it on Dec.4, saying that Israel was engaging in "ongoing human rights violations" against the Palestinians.

A total of 66 percent of the members backed joining the movement, which supporters call "Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel." Only 2,168 members participated in the Dec. 4 vote, a small fraction of Local 2865's reported 13,000 members.

The ballot language asked members to support the boycott and to call on both the university and the UAW to join in by "divest[ing] their investments, including pension funds, from Israeli state institutions and international companies complicit in severe and ongoing human rights violations as part of the Israeli oppression of Palestinian people." It also called on UAW and the university not to do business with any such companies and for the federal government to end economic aid to the country.

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