Boycott added to Presbyterian tools for Middle East peace
After three failed attempts to bring divestment back to the table, commissioners to the 220th General Assembly voted with a 71% majority to boycott “all Israeli products coming from the occupied Palestinian Territories.”
An earlier motion to reconsider the previous night's decision about divestment lost, 252-415-1.
At the conclusion of the report from the Committee on Middle East Peacemaking Issues, the Rev. Jack Baca, chair, noted that this committee’s and the Assembly’s work had “drawn interest from around the world.”
”We have disagreed on strategy and tactics,” Baca said. “We have not disagreed on our goal… of Middle East peace.”
The previous night, commissioners ruled out an opportunity to vote directly on the divestment issue by replacing it with the minority report that called only for positive engagement in the Israel-Palestine peacemaking efforts of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
Commissioners also dispatched five other items because they were answered by the action of replacing the divestment issues with the positive engagement recommendation.
One of the motions considered by the Assembly was the use of the word "apartheid" to describe the condition of Palestinians at the hands of Israelis.
Lina Moukheiber of Lebanon and the ecumenical advisory delegate from the Greek Orthodox Patriachate to Antioch, said that she was willing to speak for 15 million Arab Christians who view the conditions in which Palestinians live as “apartheid.”
Other commissioners said that Palestinians and Israelis do not constitute two separate “races,” therefore the definition of apartheid” does not apply. The Assembly agreed and voted with a 72% majority to reject the motion.
Commissioners also approved an amended commissioner’s resolution on prayer and action for Syria. The resolution called on the PC(USA) to “stand with the Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon, our partner church,” learn more about the situation in Syria and to refrain from military intervention but support United Nations peacekeeping forces to protect citizens from the ruling regime.