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US church denomination votes to divest from Israeli occupation

July 1, 2015 at 12:53 pm

The United Church of Christ (UCC) voted Tuesday to divest from companies profiting from Israel’s ongoing military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The General Synod of the UCC, a denomination with 1.1 million members, endorsed the resolution by 508 votes in favour, to 124 against, with 38 abstentions.

The resolution calls on the UCC’s pension board and investment fund, who control around US$4 billion dollars combined, “to sell off stock in any company profiting from what the church called human rights violations arising from the occupation.”

According to the United Church of Christ Palestine-Israel Network (UCC PIN), the adoption of the resolution is “the culmination of a process that began in 2005 to end the Church’s complicity in Israel’s nearly half-century-old occupation and other abuses of Palestinian human rights.”

The statement also notes “the Christian Palestinian community’s call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions, as embodied in the Kairos Palestine document,” which UCC PIN described as “inspired by the US Civil Rights and South African anti-Apartheid movements.”

Also this week, divestment proposals will be considered and put to the vote at the Episcopal Church’s general convention in Salt Lake City, and a Mennonite Church meet in Kansas City.

Rev. Mitri Raheb, a Christian Palestinian and Pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, welcomed the UCC resolution, which he said sent “a strong signal” to Palestinians “that they are not alone.” US-based group Jewish Voice for Peace extended its own congratulations to the UCC for “taking a strong stand for a just peace in Israel/Palestine.”

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon, however, complained that UCC policies “in no way reflect a moral stance or reality-based position.”