General Assembly backgrounder: Middle East peace
After eight years of failed engagement, MRTI recommends divestment
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s Committee on Mission Responsibility Through Investment (MRTI), completing a process that was first launched by the 2004 General Assembly, is recommending that the PC(USA) divest itself of stock in three corporations ― Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard and Motorola Solutions ― that it says are “profiting from non-peaceful pursuits in Israel-Palestine.”
Overtures from the presbyteries of San Francisco and Palisades support all or part of the MRTI recommendation.
Overtures from National Capital and New Covenant presbyteries oppose divestment and another from Philadelphia Presbytery calls for “a plan of active investment in projects that will support collaboration among Christians, Jews, and Muslims and help in the development of a viable infrastructure for a future Palestinian state.”
An overture from Scioto Valley Presbytery asks Presbyterians to “consider how to respond to “A Moment of Truth: A Word of Faith and Hope from the Heart of Palestinian Suffering” (also known as the “Kairos Document”) and its call to engage in “boycott and disinvestment as tools of nonviolence for justice, peace and security for all.”
In its recommendations, MRTI also asks the Assembly to renew the call of previous Assemblies to “all corporations doing business in the region to confine their business activity solely to peaceful pursuits, and refrain from allowing their products or services to support or facilitate violent acts by Israelis or Palestinians against innocent civilians, construction and maintenance of settlements or Israeli-only roads in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, the Israeli military occupation of Palestinian territory, and construction of the Separation Barrier as it extends beyond the 1967 ‘Green Line’ into Palestinian territories.”
Decrying the decline of the Arab Christian population in Israel-Palestine, an overture from San Jose Presbytery commends the U.S. State Department for its reporting on religious discrimination by the State of Israel and urges the Israeli government to end such practices and “enforce its own legal obligation to protect Christian holy sites in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.”
An overture from the Presbytery of Muskingum Valley asks the Assembly “to recognize that Israel’s laws, policies and practices constitute apartheid against the Palestinian people.” The overture insists that “Israel’s practices and actions in the occupied Palestinian territories combined with Israel’s physical changes to the land and infrastructure of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, fit the United Nations and World Court definitions of apartheid.”
An overture from San Francisco Presbytery seeks to “condemn the production and sale of Israeli products that come from the Occupied Palestinian Territories” and calls for a boycott of two producers of such products ― AHAVA Dead Sea Laboratories Beauty Products and all date products of Hadiklaim Israel Date Growers, often marketed as King Solomon Dates or Jordan River.
An overture from Greater Atlanta Presbytery seeks diplomatic solutions to tensions between the U.S. and Iran and opposes preemptive military action “by any nation” against Iran.
Matters related to the Middle East will be considered by Assembly Committee 15 ― Middle East Peacemaking Issues.