Statements   
Major written statements and reports published
by churches, governments, organizations
and the United Nations. 
  
UMC Annual Conference Resolutions
& Petitions to General Conference
The United Methodist Church is composed of regional bodies called Annual Conferences. The Book of Discipline of the UMC, which guides all church activity, states that the Annual Conference is the "primary unit" of the UMC.  Annual Conferences each hold an annual legislative session in which they may pass resolutions that speak for their region, but not for the entire denomination.  Resolutions remain in force in Annual Conferences for varying periods of time, anywhere from 4 to 12 years; each conference has its own rules regarding resolutions. Therefore, a conference may not revisit an issue for some years, until and unless conditions require a new statement or action.

Any statement passed that refers to or calls for action by a 'General' church board or agency is a petition to the General Conference of the UMC to pass such a resolution and take such action. Only the General Conference, which holds a legislative session once every four years, can speak for the entire UMC and can direct the church's general boards and agencies, e.g. directing the UM Board of Pensions to divest from certain businesses.


The next UMC General Conference will be held in 2016 in Portland, Oregon, and delegates will begin to be elected at Annual Conferences in 2014. It is expected that several conferences and other UM bodies will be adopting and submitting legislation to General Conference 2016 related to the Israel-Palestine conflict and some specifically focused on divestment from the Israeli occupation.

This page has the text of several pieces of legislation adopted by Annual Conferences in the last several years. More are being added in winter/spring 2014.

See just below a list of legislation adopted by Annual Conferences related to divestment from the Israeli occupation.

_______________________________________________________________________________

 
 
United Methodist legislative action
related to divestment from the Israeli occupation

(last updated January 2014)

2005 through 2010 (10 resolutions)

DIVESTMENT RESOLUTIONS
(General church agencies refers to the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits who manage most of the UMC's investments and any other agencies of the church with investments)

New England Conference 2005

Virginia Conference 2005 - asking general church agencies to divest from the occupation

California-Pacific Conference 2006 - for the Cal-Pac conference to divest from companies doing harm to Palestinians or Israelis

New York Conference 2006 - asking general church agencies to divest from the occupation

Rocky Mountain Conference 2006 - asking general church agencies to divest from the occupation

North Central NY Conference 2006 - asking general church agencies to divest from the occupation

Baltimore-Washington Conference 2007 - asking general church agencies to divest from the occupation

California Nevada Conference 2009 - asking general church agencies to divest from the occupation

Northern Illinois Conference 2010 - asking general church agencies to divest from the occupation

Detroit Conference 2010 - asking general church agencies to divest from the occupation


2011 Actions (8 actions, 7 resolutions adopted this year and 1 from an earlier year)

[“UMKR/GBCS resolution” refers to the resolution Aligning UM Investments with Resolutions on Israel/Palestine, originally written by United Methodist Kairos Response (UMKR), edited and adopted by the UM General Board of Church & Society (GBCS) in 2011 and submitted by them to General Conference 2012.]

DIVESTMENT RESOLUTIONS

UM General Board of Church & Society (GBCS) - the UMKR/GBCS divestment resolution; asking general church agencies to divest from the occupation
Endorsed by General Board of Global Ministries in 2012.
See many more endorsements for this resolution at the website of UMKR:
www.kairosresponse.org - see ENDORSEMENTS in the navigation bar at the top


Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference – adopted and submitted UMKR/GBCS divestment resolution to General Conference 2012

California Nevada Annual Conference – adopted in 2009, see in list above. Submitted their divestment resolution from 2009 to General Conference 2012.

California-Pacific Annual Conference – adopted and submitted UMKR/GBCS divestment resolution to General Conference 2012.

West Ohio Annual Conference – adopted (with amendment) and submitted UMKR/GBCS divestment resolution to General Conference 2012.

New England Annual Conference – adopted and submitted UMKR/GBCS divestment resolution to General Conference 2012.

New York - adopted resolution for their annual conference to divest from the occupation.

Northern Illinois Annual Conference – adopted and submitted UMKR/GBCS divestment resolution to General Conference 2012.


2013 Actions (7 resolutions, 4 for divestment and 3 forming task forces)

DIVESTMENT RESOLUTIONS (4)

Upper New York Annual Conference - adopted resolution with very large support, asking UM General Board of Pension and Health Benefits to divest from the occupation.

Minnesota Annual Conference - adopted resolution to divest from General Electric due to involvement in Israeli occupation.

New England Annual Conference – adopted resolution to divest its own holdings from Caterpillar, Hewlett Packard and Motorola Solutions. Resolution asked the New England Foundation, the UM General Board of Pension and Health Benefits, and all other bodies handling investments for the New England Annual Conference to divest.

Pacific Northwest Annual Conference - adopted resolution asking Pensions to divest from Caterpillar, Hewlett Packard and Motorola Solutions.

RESOLUTIONS FOR DIVESTMENT TASK FORCE (3)

Eastern Pennsylvania Annual Conference - adopted resolution to form divestment task force.

Susquehanna Annual Conference - adopted resolution to form a divestment task force.

Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference - adopted resolution to form divestment task force.


2014 Actions (4 resolutions, 1 for boycott and 3 others)

Minnesota Conference - adopted resolution to boycott SodaStream

Oregon-Idaho Conference - adopted resolution recommending all congregations in the conference commit to studying the Kairos Palestine Document

North Georgia Conference - adopted resolution for the Conference Board of Connectional Ministries to appoint a task force to research and report potential ways for the conference to engage with people in the Holy Land in constructive conversations about peace

West Michigan - adopted resolution that calls on leadership of U.S., Israel and Palestine to reject all acts of aggression and violence in the region.


_____________________________________

 
2010 Northern Illinois Annual Conference Resolution
Steadfast Support of Christians in the Holy Land

Action: 
In response to our Palestinian Christian brothers and sisters in The Amman Call[1]  for actions - not words, the Northern Illinois Conference resolves to request the Northern Illinois United Methodist Foundation to divest from its holdings corporations which (1) have a presence on occupied land, (2) are involved with the physical settlements, checkpoints and the separation wall or (3) that support activities of the Israeli military in the occupied territories. The Foundation owns shares in the following companies that fall in this criteria: CAT Caterpillar, GE General Electric, and TEX  Terex and which have been engaged by the New England Conference to request an end of their  actions which support the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories and East Jerusalem.  

Furthermore, the list of twenty companies[2] identified by the New England Conference  Divestment Task Force should be distributed to investment managers at all NIC  churches along with a copy of this resolution and a cover letter requesting them to respectfully  consider divestment from the corporations on the list. 

Churches interested in learning more about the conflict in Israel/Palestine from the perspective of the Christians living there are asked to contact the Northern Illinois Conference – End the  Occupation Task Force, NIC-ETO, to request a presentation.  

Rationale: 
The Northern Illinois Conference is resolute in its support of peace for both Israelis and Palestinians in the Holy Land and the rights of each to co-exist according to the principles set forth in the Geneva Conventions.  

The Amman Call, issued in June 2007, as the result of the World Council of Churches international peace conference in Amman, Jordan, put forth the urgent plea from Palestinian Christians to their brothers and sisters in Christ: “Enough is enough. No more words without deeds. It is time for action.” [1]  

The humanitarian crisis in Gaza has strengthened its grip since its borders were sealed in June, 2007 by Israel. Justice Richard Goldstone, a Jewish South African, self-professed Zionist, led the United Nations investigation of the war on Gaza. Justice Goldstone was the chief prosecutor  for  Yugoslavia and Rwanda and many other investigations. The UN report is available on the UN  website. [3] We encourage all NIC United Methodists to read these findings to understand the extent of the war crimes, thankful to have an honest, independent review.  

The U.N. investigation concludes that signatory states of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 cannot continue to ignore the crimes against humanity and criminal actions in Israel/Palestine. The U.S. is a signatory of the Geneva Conventions. While it condemns Hamas for firing rockets into Israel which killed seven people, it extensively documents violations of the Geneva Conventions by Israel before and after the Gaza war. In an interview with Moyer, Goldstone was asked why there was not more condemnation of Hamas. He said there was no comparison in the capacity of Israel which has some of the most advanced weapons in the world to an economically devastated group using mostly homemade weapons to commit crimes against humanity.  

United Methodist resolution 323 adopted in 2000, calls for the “United States, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, to accept the authority of Security Council resolutions and abide by Resolutions 242 and 338, as well as all other relevant Security Council resolutions, that provide a framework for bringing this conflict to a just and permanent end.”  

President Jimmy Carter stated: “Never before in history has a large community like this been savaged by bombs and missiles and then denied the means to repair itself.” [4]  

The Amman call challenges the NIC and churches everywhere: “Act with us to liberate all peoples of this land from the logic of hatred, mutual rejection and death, so that they see in the other the face and dignity of God.”  

(1) World Council of Churches. “The Amman Call” oikoumene.org 20-06-07-the-amman-call.html Web. 20 June 2007.  

(2) Divestment Task Force, New England Conference UMC “Understanding United 70 Methodist Divestment” unitedmethodistdivestment.com companiesInvolved.html  

(3) United Nations General Assembly. “Human Rights in Palestine and Other Occupied Arab  Territories: Report of the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict”un.org A-HRC-12-48.pdf Web. 25 September 2009.  

(4) British Broadcasting News. “Carter ‘distressed’ by Gaza visit” bbc.org 8102631.stm Web.  17 June 2009. 




2010 Detroit Annual Conference Resolution
Divestment from Corporations Profiting from
Israel’s Occupation of Palestinian Land

 
Motion:
Be it resolved that the Detroit Annual Conference petition the United Methodist General Board of Pensions and Health Benefits to divest itself of funds it has invested in corporations whose business and products are supporting the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land.
 
Rationale:
Selective divestment is a legitimate and non-violent means of opposing injustice by a powerful state.  Historically the UMC has endorsed non-violent resistance to injustice.  Israel claims to want peace and security, but there can be no peace or security without justice.  Israel’s unacceptable policies and actions include:
 
1. Encouraging Jewish-only settlements for 450,000+ Jews, subsidized by U.S. citizens and built on Palestinian land. Such settlements are prohibited by the Geneva Convention.
2.  Demolishing 1000s of Palestinian homes to build the Jewish settlements and a 25 foot separation wall, such as the one encircling Bethlehem, which destroys the continuity of Palestinian life.
3.  Destruction of olive trees, farmland and water resources essential to Palestinian survival.
4.  Dehumanizing the Palestinians and crippling their economic livelihood with hundreds of checkpoints.
5.  Military control, restriction and surveillance of nearly every aspect of Palestinian life.
6.  The 2008-2009 invasion and continued blockade of Gaza, declared as a crime against Humanity, depriving 1.500,000 Gaza residents of essential food, medical supplies and infrastructure needed for survival.
 
Prior actions of the United Methodist Church:
1.  In 2004 the General Conference of the UMC voted 844 to 19 that it “opposes continued military occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, the confiscation of Palestinian land and water resources, the destruction of Palestinian homes, the continued building of illegal Jewish settlements…” (2004 Book of Resolutions, #312, pp. 787-790).
 
2.  The Book of Discipline states, “It shall be the policy of the UMC that all general boards and agencies, including…annual conferences, foundations and local churches, shall…invest in… funds whose practices are consistent with the goals outlined in the Social Principles; and shall endeavor to avoid investments that appear likely, directly or indirectly, to support…violation of human rights…”   (2004 Book of Discipline, paragraph 716, p. 469).




2010 California-Nevada Annual Conference Statement
Commending the Kairos Palestine Document


“They shall all sit under their own vine and under their own fig trees,
with none to terrify them, for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken.”
Micah 4:4

We, the members of the 2010 Session of the California-Nevada Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church, having last year passed a resolution initiating a process of selective divestment from corporations that “support in a significant way the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories,” join our Conference Israel-Palestine Task Force in commending Kairos Palestine, “A moment of truth: a word of faith, hope and love from the heart of Palestinian suffering,” to our pastors and local congregations for use as a resource for study, instruction, and advocacy.  

We make this commendation in solidarity with Christian leaders in Palestine and Israel who issued this prophetic call and who see boycott, divestment, and sanctions as effective ways for people and institutions in civil society nonviolently to resist the Israeli military occupation of Palestinian land, which is understood theologically as “a sin against God and humanity because it deprives the Palestinians of their basic human rights, bestowed by God.”




2006 California-Pacific Annual Conference Resolution
Seeking Peace and Pursuing Justice in the Holy Land


What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and love kindness and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8 Truly I tell you, just as you did it to the least of these who are the
members of my family, you did it to me. Matthew 25:40

WHEREAS, we affirm Israel's right to exist within permanent, recognized and secure borders, and Palestine's right to self-determination and formation of a viable state, whether it is through a one-state or two-state solution; and

WHEREAS, by a vote of 877 to 19, the General Conference in 2004 voted to resolve that, "The UMC opposes continued military occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem, the confiscation of Palestinian land and water resources, the destruction of Palestinian homes, the continued building of illegal Jewish settlements, and any vision of a 'Greater Israel' that includes the occupied territories and the whole of Jerusalem and its surroundings;" [Book of Res, 2004, #312];, and

WHEREAS, The UMC should not profit from the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestinian land
or the destruction of Palestinian homes, orchards, and lives, and

WHEREAS, we are committed to ensuring that our denomination's finances are used in a
manner consistent with Christ's teaching, our beliefs, and international law, and

WHEREAS, the illegal destruction of Palestinian homes and economy, and confiscation of
Palestinian land, are made possible by the use of armored bulldozers, helicopter gunships, tanks and other equipment supplied to Israel by multinational corporations that profit from such violent and deadly activities; and

WHEREAS, The UMC Book of Resolutions states our policy on "Avoidance by Divestment" to wit:
"This policy prohibits investment in enterprises that have policies of practices that are so morally reprehensible that investment in these companies is not tolerated by the church. Our
denomination traditionally has avoided investments in liquor, tobacco and gambling.
Historically many church investors have refused to invest in major military contractors,
companies with nuclear weapons contracts, or companies when they were doing business in
South Africa under apartheid. In some cases, they have divested from such companies, making public their action as a moral statement;"

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the California-Pacific Annual conference call upon the
local churches, Conference Board of Pensions, the Conference UM Foundation and others who invest UM funds to review and identify companies that profit from sales of products or services that cause harm to Palestinians or Israelis and divest from these companies; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we support other religious partners who are divesting
from selected companies such as the July 2004 General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA), the July 2005 General Synod of the United Church of Christ; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Conference Secretary send this resolution to the
General Board of Church and Society for submission to the 2008 General Conference in order to call upon the United Methodist General Board of Pensions and Health Benefits and the General Council on Finance and Administration, and other general church agencies with investment to review and identify companies that profit from sales of products or services that cause harm to Palestinians and Israelis and divest from these companies.




2006 New York Annual Conference
Resolution
Act For Peace In The Middle East
 
Whereas we affirm Israel’s right to exist within permanent, recognized and secure borders, and Palestinians’ rights to self-determination and formation of a viable state; and

Whereas there has been some renewal of hope for peace in the Middle East as new Palestinian leadership has emerged through elections, and Israel has withdrawn from its Gaza settlements, both providing a limited welcome momentum for building peace; but

Whereas vacating Gaza settlements will mean the removal of only about 8,000 Israeli settlers out of a total settler population of nearly 445,000, with the vast majority of settlements continuing to thrive and prosper with almost 4,000 new settlement dwellings in the Palestinian Territories under construction;2

Whereas to make room for such illegal settlements Israel has illegally demolished hundreds of Palestinian homes, leaving thousands of Palestinians homeless, destroyed hundreds of acres of olive trees, devastating the Palestinian economy, and confiscated thousands of acres of land in the Palestinian territories for Israeli settlements, and built over 200 miles of exclusive settlement access roads, all of which has placed nearly half of the Palestinian Territories under settler use and control;3

Whereas the above illegal destruction of Palestinian homes and economy, and confiscation of Palestinian land, is made possible by the use of armored bulldozers, helicopter gunships, tanks and other equipment supplied to Israel by multinational corporations that profit from such violent and deadly activities; 

Whereas, “The United Methodist Church opposes continued military occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem, the confiscation of Palestinian land and water resources, the destruction of Palestinian homes, the continued building of illegal Jewish settlements, and any vision of a ‘Greater Israel’ that includes the occupied territories and the whole of Jerusalem and its surroundings;” 4

Whereas The United Methodist Church holds that a boycott is “a legitimate Christian response to an identified social or economic injustice,”5 and has joined major boycotts such as one initiated in 1977 against the Nestle Company because of its marketing of infant formula in developing countries, a boycott against Royal Dutch Shell endorsed in 1988 because its connections to the apartheid system in South Africa and, most recently joining, in May 2004, a boycott against Taco Bell restaurants because of the sub-poverty wages paid to farm workers for picking tomatoes used in Taco Bell food products,6 all of
which were resolved with significant social justice gains such as change in Nestle’s marketing practices, abolition of apartheid in South Africa, and significant gains in wages for farm workers7 — thereby demonstrating the substantial impact The United Methodist Church and other religious bodies can make when joining struggles for justice and peace;

Therefore, be it hereby resolved that the New York Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church:
 
1. Calls upon the United Methodist Board of Pensions to review its investments and undertake a process of phased, selective divestment from any multinational corporations profiting from illegal demolition of Palestinian homes, destruction of Palestinian economy and confiscation of Palestinian land, following United Methodist guidelines which require a period of information gathering and evaluation of alternative means of intervention before undertaking a boycott.8
 
2. Calls upon the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society to initiate a study of the feasibility of advocating a wider form of phased, selective divestment from any multinational corporations profiting from the illegal and violent activities noted above.
 
3. Requests the United Methodist General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns to develop and promote wider avenues of engagement between Christians, Muslims and Jewish communities pursuing justice and peace.
 
Endnotes: 1- 8
1- Israeli settler population as of 2004: West Bank – 231,800; East Jerusalem – 185,000; Gaza – 8,000; Golan Heights – 20,000; Total – 444,800. Foundation for Middle East Peace, www.fmep.org (9 March 2005).
2- Geoffrey Aronson, “Settlers Losing the Battle for Gaza Settlements,” Report on Israeli Settlements in the Occupied Territories, (15/1, January-February 2005), www.fmep.org/reports/2005/Jan-Feb/v15n1.html  (9March 2005).
3- Numbers vary greatly, depending on the sources. For example, very conservative sources admit over 600 Palestinian homes destroyed in the last four years, while highly critical sources claim as many as 5,000 destroyed. Over half of all such homes have been destroyed through military operations to make way for Israeli settlements, while punitive demolitions and lack of Israeli controlled building permits account for the rest. It should be noted that many in the Jewish community deplore such actions by Israel and assert that criticism of Israeli state policy and actions is legitimate and does not imply anti-semitism — see, e.g., Jewish Voices for Peace, <www.jewishvoicesforpeace.org>.
4- “Opposition to Israeli Settlements in Palestinian Land,” (Book of Resolutions of The United Methodist
Church, 2004), 789.
5- “Guidelines for Initiating or Joining an Economic boycott,” (Book of Resolutions, 2004), 507.
6- “United Methodists join boycott of Taco Bell,” United Methodist Communications, www.umc.org (9 March 2005).
7- The settlement provided for an eighty percent increase in wages paid to farm workers employed by
suppliers to Taco Bell, from 1.25 cents per pound of picked tomatoes to 2.25 cents per pound, that will lift
these workers from sub-poverty wages of about $7,500/year to roughly poverty level wages. “Taco Bell Boycott Ended,” <www.umc-gbcs.org/news/viewnews.php?newsId=9457>
(9 March 2005); “Taco Bell and Farmworkers Reach Accords On Concessions,” Washington Post (9 March 2005): A6; “Farm workers Yum reach agreement. Taco Bell to pay more for tomatoes,” News Virginian (9 March 2005): B5.
8- See note 5 above.





2005 New England Annual Conference Resolution
Divestiture of Funds that Support Israeli Occupation

Whereas we believe in the absolute equality of all God’s children, and reject all efforts to dominate or to subjugate others based on religion, race or ethnicity,

Whereas we embrace the Ten Commandments God gave to Moses, which forbid stealing, coveting the land of one’s neighbor, and taking human life,

Whereas we honor Micah’s call in the Old Testament to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God, and we follow Christ’s call to love our neighbors as ourselves,

Whereas we reject all violence and acts of provocation that lead to violence, believe in the right of all peoples to security, and believe that security for one people can never be achieved by denying security to others,

Whereas we are called to support members of Christ’s church around the world, including Palestinian Christians who are being forced to leave the Holy Land due to Israel’s confiscation of their property and the severe hardships of living under occupation,

Whereas the Fourth Geneva Convention forbids an occupying power from moving its own people into territory it occupies, and there are currently more than 400,000 Israeli settlers in the occupied Palestinian territories, with thousands of new settler housing units being planned and constructed,

Whereas Palestinian land is still being confiscated for these settlements and for construction of the separation wall deep inside the Palestinian territories,

Whereas the settlements and Israel’s wall on Palestinian land violate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Geneva Conventions, and numerous United Nations Resolutions, and whereas settlement expansion violates the Declaration of Principles signed by the parties in Washington in 1993, and the requirements of the Roadmap signed in 2003,

Whereas a number of American and Israeli Jewish peace groups, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and other religious leaders have called for selective divestment from Israel as a means of ending settlement expansion and ending the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands,

Whereas the General Conference of the United Methodist Church in 2004 passed Resolution 312 entitled “Opposition to Israeli Settlements in Palestinian Land” which called for an end to the occupation of Palestinian land by Israel,

Whereas the United Methodist Church should not profit from the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestinian land or the destruction of Palestinian homes, orchards, and lives,

Whereas we are committed to ensuring that our denomination’s money is used in a manner consistent with our beliefs, with international law, and with Christ’s teaching,

Therefore, be it resolved that a committee be created to examine and submit to United Methodist churches and investment managers in the New England Conference within six months a list of companies that support in a significant way the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories, and to maintain the list and constantly re-evaluate the relationship of companies to the occupation. Such committee should have two representatives from each state in the New England Conference, appointed by the Church and Society Committee in consultation with the appropriate district superintendents in each state, and should meet monthly until an initial divestment list is developed, and quarterly thereafter. Before placing a company on the list, the committee should write to that company, explain the committee’s concerns, and request a change in the company’s relationship to the Israeli occupation.

If no change in policy is reported within 60 days as being taken or contemplated, the company’s name should be placed on the divestment list along with explanatory details and shared with the New England Conference.

Be it further resolved that United Methodist churches and investment managers in the New England Conference are encouraged to examine their portfolios to see whether current investments include companies on the divestment list described above. Those who find they are holding investments in such companies are urged to consider divesting from them.

Be it further resolved that the New England Conference of the United Methodist Church calls on the U.S. government, the government of Israel, and the newly elected Palestinian leadership to reject all acts of aggression and violence, to respect the equality and dignity of all the region’s people, and to forge solutions based on the principles of international law and human rights.

Be it also resolved that we affirm the right of Christians, Jews, and Muslims to freedom of movement in this land that three faiths call holy, and that we affirm the maintenance of Jerusalem as an open city for people of all three faiths in accordance with Resolution 312 of the United Methodist 2004 General Conference Book of Resolutions.

Supporting Statement
Despite renewed talk of peace between Israelis and Palestinians, the hard reality is that Israel’s actions on the ground in the region, as well as Palestinian militant attacks on Israelis, place enormous obstacles in the way of progress toward peace.

The urgency of the humanitarian crisis in the occupied Palestinian territories cannot be overstated. Palestinians face soaring unemployment, malnutrition, restrictions on movement, denial of medical care, denial of access to their agricultural lands, humiliation at checkpoints, and extended lockdowns called curfews. More than 4 million Palestinian refugees live in poverty, while Israelis live in their homes and farm their lands.

Israel continues to take the land of the Palestinian people for ever-expanding settlements, Israeli-only roadways, and the construction of a giant wall and fence that is confiscating a significant portion of the Palestinian land in the West Bank. 83% of the West Bank’s water has been taken for Israeli use, leaving Palestinians with desperate water shortages. Israel has destroyed the homes of more than 28,000 Palestinians in four and a half years. Hundreds of thousands of ancient olive trees and vast tracts of agricultural land have also been destroyed.

Israel has built a ring of Jewish settlements around Arab East Jerusalem, impeding access to the West Bank for Jerusalem’s Arab residents and ensuring that Palestinians cannot use East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state, which has been called for by every major peace plan.

In 2004, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled by 14-1 that Israel should halt and dismantle the Wall being constructed illegally in occupied Palestinian territory, and make reparation for the damage arising from its unlawful conduct. Palestinians continue to alternate between often-futile non-violent protest and unacceptable violent attacks on Israelis. Israeli soldiers have repeatedly fired on non-violent protesters, killing and 2 wounding not only Palestinians, but international peace activists – including Americans – who have stood with them. In addition, volunteers with the Christian Peacemaker Teams in the West Bank have been attacked by Israeli settlers while escorting Palestinian children to school. Settlers have been involved in many acts of violence against Palestinians.

Palestinian Christians are being forced to leave the Holy Land. Their land and water has also been taken by Israel. They now comprise less than 2% of the West Bank’s population, and there are very real fears that soon there will be no Christian presence in the land of Christ’s birth. Those who remain are calling on Christians everywhere to reject the policies that are driving them and their Muslim neighbors from a region their ancestors have inhabited for more than 2000 years. Many recall a time when Christians, Jews, and Muslims lived in harmony together in this land, and believe it can happen again when people of all religions are accepted as equals, with full rights to life, liberty and property.

Our Christian faith calls us to reject violence of any kind, and to reject acts of aggression that provoke violence. As United Methodists, we are committed to work for justice, and to refuse to be complacent in the face of such monumental human suffering. We are also called to support other members of the Body of Christ around the world.

It is not expected that United Methodist divestment activity or that of any other religious denomination will significantly affect Israel’s economy or the bottom line of major US companies, but this is not the goal. The goal is to make all United Methodists and other Americans aware of their relationship to companies that benefit from the Israeli occupation and give them an opportunity to withdraw from such relationships, so they are not participants in human rights violations that violate Christian principles and international law. Another, equally important goal is to give hope to Palestinians, including our Christian counterparts in the region, and let them know they are not forgotten.

Christ has called us to be a light to the nations, to replace darkness and despair with hope rooted in love for all God’s creation. Refusing to be a part of an illegal occupation that endangers Israelis as well as Palestinians is an effective way to show our light to the world. In addition, the conference passed the following amendment (proposed by Bob Hannum) to the above resolution:

AMENDMENT: Be it finally resolved that we urge our United Methodist funding agencies and our local churches to support with our prayers, presence, and money, those Israeli, Palestinian and international organizations, which bring Israelis and Palestinians together in dialogue, and work daily for peace with justice for both peoples.

A list of such organizations will be provided to the above mentioned committee.




2005 Virginia Annual Conference Resolution
Act for Peace in the Middle East

[This action matches the one above that was passed
by the New York Annual Conference in 2006.]


    Whereas we affirm Israel’s right to exist within permanent, recognized and secure borders, and Palestinians’ rights to self-determination and formation of a viable state; and

    Whereas there has been some renewal of hope for peace in the Middle East as new Palestinian leadership has emerged through elections, and Israel has announced plans to evacuate its Gaza settlements, both providing a limited welcome momentum for building peace; but

    Whereas vacating Gaza settlements will mean the removal of only about 8,000 Israeli settlers out of a total settler population of nearly 445,000 , with the vast majority of settlements continuing to thrive and prosper with almost 4,000 new settlement dwellings in the Palestinian Territories under construction;  

    Whereas to make room for such illegal settlements Israel has illegally demolished hundreds of Palestinian homes, leaving thousands of Palestinians homeless, destroyed hundreds of acres of olive trees, devastating the Palestinian economy, and confiscated thousands of acres of land in the Palestinian territories for Israeli settlements, and built over 200 miles of exclusive settlement access roads, all of which has placed nearly half of the Palestinian Territories under settler use and control;

    Whereas the above illegal destruction of Palestinian homes and economy, and confiscation of Palestinian land, is made possible by the use of armored bulldozers, helicopter gunships, tanks and other equipment supplied to Israel by multinational corporations that profit from such violent and deadly activities;

    Whereas, “The United Methodist Church opposes continued military occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem, the confiscation of Palestinian land and water resources, the destruction of Palestinian homes,  the continued building of illegal Jewish settlements, and any vision of a ‘Greater Israel’ that includes the occupied territories and the whole of Jerusalem and its surroundings;”

    Whereas The United Methodist Church holds that a boycott is “a legitimate Christian response to an identified social or economic injustice,”  and has joined major boycotts such as one initiated in 1977 against the Nestle Company because of its marketing of infant formula in developing countries, a boycott against Royal Dutch Shell endorsed in 1988 because its connections to the apartheid system in South Africa and, most recently joining, in May 2004, a boycott against Taco Bell restaurants because of the sub-poverty wages paid to farm workers for picking tomatoes used in Taco Bell food products,  all of which were resolved with significant social justice gains such as change in Nestle’s marketing practices, abolition of apartheid in South Africa, and significant gains in wages for farm workers  — thereby demonstrating the substantial impact The United Methodist Church and other religious bodies can make when joining struggles for justice and peace;

    Therefore, be it hereby resolved that the Virginia Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church:                                    
 
    1.  Calls upon the United Methodist Board of Pensions to review its investments and undertake a process of phased, selective divestment from any multinational corporations profiting from illegal demolition of Palestinian homes, destruction of Palestinian economy and confiscation of Palestinian land, following United Methodist guidelines which require a period of information gathering and evaluation of alternative means of  intervention before undertaking a boycott.                                 

    2.  Calls upon the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society to initiate a study of the feasibility of advocating a wider form of phased, selective divestment from any multinational corporations profiting from the illegal and violent activities noted above.

    3.  Requests the United Methodist General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns to develop and promote wider avenues of engagement between Christians, Muslims and Jewish communities pursuing justice and peace.