Continuing with a long-time commitment of the World Council of Churches (WCC), a recent statement issued by Council’s chief governing body reaffirms churches’ “solidarity with those working for peace with justice in Palestine and Israel.” The statement encourages churches to make responsible decisions regarding their investments which have an impact on the current situation in the region.
The statement titled Economic Measures and Christian Responsibility toward Israel and Palestine was adopted at the WCC Central Committee meeting on July 8 here.
The document calls “targeted economic measures” an important “non-violent strategy for promoting peace and abating violence.” Efforts from the WCC member churches in implementing responsible economic measures with related impact on Israel and Palestine situation were acknowledged in the statement.
The document mentions the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) which at its recent General Assembly made a decision to divest from three U.S.-based corporations that profit from Israel’s illegal military occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. The statement encourages the global ecumenical community to accompany individuals and churches faced with criticism for demanding an end to the occupation of Palestine.
The document also notes other efforts from the churches working with governments to ensure labeling of goods produced in Israeli settlements categorized as manufactured in occupied Palestinian territories. These “efforts are bearing fruit especially within the European Union.”
The statement highlights efforts of those churches that have voted to boycott goods produced in the Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian lands.
“We are called to take action in support of peaceful solutions to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Economic pressure, appropriately and openly applied, is one such means of action,” reads the statement. The document encourages the WCC member churches to make investments that can help “maintain a vibrant Palestinian Christian presence and witness in Israel and Palestine.”
Amidst growing tensions in the West Bank, the statement underlines deep concern over the recent eruption of violence costing many lives. “The level of tension and violence in Israel and Palestine has again reached frightening proportions. We bear witness to the senseless deaths of young people and the suffering,” acknowledges the statement.
In this situation, the document encourages the WCC member churches to “engage in dialogue with Palestinian churches, civil society actors, and Jewish partners.” Instead of “reacting to the political controversies around economic measures, churches should thoughtfully and prayerfully consider how they might respond from the foundation of their faith,” reads the statement.