The United Methodist Church, the nation’s largest mainline Protestant denomination, voted against two proposals on Wednesday to divest from companies that provide equipment used by Israel to enforce its control in the occupied territories.
The closely watched vote, at the church’s quadrennial convention in Tampa, Fla., came after months of intense lobbying by American Jews, Israelis and Palestinian Christians. After an afternoon of impassioned debate and several votes, the delegates overwhelmingly passed a more neutral resolution calling for “positive” investment to encourage economic development “in Palestine.”
However, the Methodists also passed a strongly worded resolution denouncing the Israeli occupation and the settlements, and calling for “all nations to prohibit the import of products made by companies in Israeli settlements on Palestinian land.”
An international movement for “boycott, divestment and sanctions” has gained steam as the peace process in the Middle East has come to a virtual standstill, and allies of the Palestinians have argued that these strategies could pressure Israel to stop building settlements and return to the negotiating table.
The divestment question has come up repeatedly over the years in mainline Protestant churches, which have long cultivated relationships with Palestinian Christians and regularly send delegations to Israel and the occupied territories. These denominations support hospitals, schools and charities in the territories.
The Episcopal Church is also mentioned in the article:
The presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, the Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, recently came out against divestment and boycotts, and instead urged Episcopalians to invest in development projects in the West Bank and Gaza.