United Church of Christ calls for boycott and divestment from companies profiting in Israel’s occupation

United Church of Christ calls for boycott and divestment from companies profiting in Israel’s occupation

Written by the World Council of Churches

The 30th General Synod of the United Church of Christ (UCC), a member church of the World Council of Churches (WCC), has passed a resolution calling for a boycott and divestment from companies that profit in Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.

The action was endorsed by a vote of 508-124 with 38 abstentions on 30 June at the UCC’s governing body meeting in Cleveland, Ohio, USA.

The UCC General Synod resolution opposes Israel’s nearly half-century-old occupation and other abuses of Palestinian human rights. It also comes as a response to the Christian Palestinian community’s call for boycott, divestment and sanctions as embodied in the Kairos Palestine document that seeks to achieve Palestinian freedom and rights using peaceful means, inspired by the historic US civil rights and South African anti-apartheid movements.

Through this resolution, the UCC expresses the hope to encourage the Israeli government to end the occupation. The synod vows to work in covenantal relationship with the UCC Pension Board and the UCC’s United Church Funds to implement this resolution.

The United Church of Christ Palestine-Israel Network (UCC PIN) strongly approves of the resolution. The UCC PIN is a network of churches committed to work for a just peace ending the conflict in Palestine and Israel.

In passing this resolution, the UCC has followed in the footsteps of sister mainline churches in the United States like the Presbyterian Church (USA), which passed a similar resolution last year divesting from three multinational corporations allegedly profiting from Israel’s occupation, as well as a boycott by the United Methodist Church (UMC) of all Israeli companies operating in the occupied Palestinian territories. And the UMC pension board divested from Group 4 Securicor, a prison service company, due in part to its dealings with the Israeli military.

These policies of US member churches are consistent with those of the WCC.

In 1995, the WCC Central Committee established criteria for economic actions in the service of justice, and in 2001, the Executive Committee of the WCC recommended an international boycott of goods produced in illegal Israeli settlements on Palestinian occupied territories. In February 2005 the Central Committee of the WCC encouraged its member churches to give serious consideration to economic measures as a new way to work for peace, and to explore ways of avoiding economic participation in illegal activities related to the Israeli occupation.

A statement issued by the WCC Central Committee in 2014 reaffirmed churches’ “solidarity with those working for peace with justice in Palestine and Israel”. The statement encouraged churches to make responsible decisions regarding their investments which have an impact on the region.