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Assembly committee recommends divestment

July 4, 2012

Pittsburgh

The 220th GA Committee on Middle East and Peacemaking Issues has voted to recommend that the Assembly approve both divestment and creative investment in companies doing business within Israel and Palestine. The vote was 36 yes, 11 no, and 1 abstention.

The committee added the comment, “As we divest from those companies profiting from non-peaceful pursuits the occupation, we lift up our continuing investment in companies operating in Israel and Palestine that support peaceful pursuits.”

The full Assembly will consider whether or not to place “Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard, and Motorola Solutions on the General Assembly divestment list until such time as they have ceased profiting from non-peaceful pursuits in Israel-Palestine....”

Commissioners answered four other related overtures with this action.

Commissioner Jack Baca (San Diego Presbytery) moderated the committee through the polity process while making room for all voices to be heard and all questions to be asked. Committee members looked for reasons for moments of lighthearted relief throughout the day as they heard many passionate speakers on both sides of each issue they addressed.

The committee struggled with how to affirm positive investments and actions while preventing duplication of efforts approved by previous Assemblies. To clarify their action, they proposed a statement that reads:

“The General Assembly broadly supports the recommendation for creative engagement to support peace. We therefore adopt this overture recognizing that the rationale provided by (the Presbytery of) Philadelphia rejects divestment. The committee supports divestment from non-peaceful pursuits under 15-11 [the recommendation to divest].”

By a vote of 28-19, the committee rejected the use of the word “apartheid” to describe the Israel-Palestine issue.

"The things that I’ve heard break my heart. And I think it breaks God's heart,” said commissioner Ken Page (Grand Canyon Presbytery). "May God grant us peace."

Earlier the committee voted to recommend to the plenary the boycotting of Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories and Hadiklaim (an Israeli Date Growers Cooperative). The vote was 37-6-2 and included the changes recommended by the Advocacy Committee for Racial Ethnic Concerns and the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy.

A minority report on divestment is anticipated.

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