Quakers in Britain has today become the first church in the UK to announce it will not invest any of its centrally-held funds in companies profiting from the Israeli occupation of Palestine.
In a press release, the faith group said that the trustees of the church took the decision in light of its long tradition of ethical investment. The church said they refused to "profit from the occupation of Palestine," pointing to its historical divestment from apartheid South Africa, the fossil fuel industry, arms companies and even the transatlantic slave trade.
Paul Parker, recording clerk for Quakers in Britain, said:
Our long history of working for a just peace in Palestine and Israel has opened our eyes to the many injustices and violations of international law arising from the military occupation of Palestine by the Israeli government.
"With the occupation now in its 51st year, and with no end in sight, we believe we have a moral duty to state publicly that we will not invest in any company profiting from the occupation," he said, adding: "We know this decision will be hard for some to hear. We hope they will understand that our beliefs compel us to speak out about injustices wherever we see them in the world, and not to shy away from difficult conversations."
"As Quakers, we seek to live out our faith through everyday actions, including the choices we make about where to put our money," Parker explained.
He continued: "We believe strongly in the power of legitimate, nonviolent, democratic tools such as morally-responsible investment to realise positive change in the world. We want to make sure our money and energies are instead put into places which support our commitments to peace, equality and justice."
"We hope that by announcing our refusal to profit from these companies it will encourage others to think about their own investments and help challenge the legality and practices of the ongoing military occupation."
Ingrid Greenhow, clerk of Quakers in Britain trustees, said:
While we do not believe we currently hold investments in any company profiting from the occupation, we will now amend our investment policy to ensure this remains the case in future.
"This includes companies – whichever country they are based in – involved for example in the illegal exploitation of natural resources in occupied Palestine, and the construction and servicing of the separation barrier and Israeli settlements," Greenhow added.
"We look forward to the publication of the UN Business and Human Rights Database which will list companies involved in settlement-related activities in occupied Palestine. We recognise the help this – and others including the Investigate database compiled by the American Friends Service Committee – will give our investment managers in implementing this new policy."