Committee proposes two resolutions on Israeli-Palestinian conflict

July 8, 2012

[Episcopal News Service — Indianapolis] After hearing public testimony on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and considering all the related legislation, the National and International Concerns Committee has proposed two resolutions for consideration by the houses of General Convention.

A substitute of Resolution B019 affirms positive investment “as a necessary means to create a sound economy and a sustainable infrastructure” in the Palestinian Territories. The content of the resolution is consonant with what was endorsed by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and Bishop Stacy Sauls, the Episcopal Church’s chief operating officer, in testimony read at a July 6 public hearing.

The resolution urges all congregations to seek, over the next triennium, “to engage with local Jewish and Muslim congregations to study peace with justice in the Middle East,” and urges that the narratives and theologies that inform the conversation on peace with justice in the Middle East be particular focuses of attention.

It calls on the church to support “the Jewish, Muslim, and Christian study on peace with justice in the Middle East,” and to produce an annotated bibliography of resources.

The committee massaged the language in Resolution C060 to call on the church to engage “in corporate social responsibility by more vigorous and public corporate engagement with companies in the church’s investment portfolio that contribute to the infrastructure of the Occupation.” The original legislation had specifically mentioned companies that “do business in illegal Israeli settlements.”

C060 is based on a template resolution from the Palestine Israel Network (PIN) of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship that had been submitted by 10 dioceses for consideration at General Convention.

The main thrust of the resolution is calling on the church “to develop and implement a strategy of advocacy and engagement” during the next triennium “to further a just resolution of the conflict utilizing existing policies and resources,” including “a robust use” of the Episcopal Public Policy Network.

The revised legislation retains language that would have the church “assist individual Episcopalians by providing information on products made and distributed from illegal Israeli settlements so that they can make informed consumer choices.”

Opponents to PIN’s template resolution had raised concerns about two documents it was recommending for study by the church in the coming triennium because the texts present perspectives that they believe are not helpful.

Supporters have said that the Palestinian perspective is rarely heard in the United States and that the two documents help to present that narrative.

The texts are Kairos Palestine’s “A Moment of Truth” and the Presbyterian Church USA’s “Steadfast Hope.” that include information about using boycotts, sanctions and divestment to pressure the Israeli government to end the occupation of the Palestinian Territories.

Some National and International Concerns Committee members expressed a desire to produce a report to address areas in which they believe Resolution C060 did not express a strong enough critique of Israeli policy.

Resolution B019 reaffirms the church’s official policy, based on resolutions passed at its previous General Conventions, committing to a two-state solution in which a secure and universally recognized state of Israel lives alongside a free, viable, and secure state for the Palestinian people, with a shared Jerusalem as the capital of both.

The church also has official church policy dating to 2005, when Executive Council, as recommended by its Social Responsibility in Investments Committee, commended a report calling for “corporate engagement” and “positive investment” when dealing with companies in which the Episcopal Church owns assets and shares.

For previous stories on resolutions and public testimony related to Israel and Palestine click here.

— Matthew Davies is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service.