Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Methodist Church UK to boycott goods from illegal Israeli settlements

Back at the end of June, the Conference of the Methodist Church in the UK passed a resolution to boycott goods from illegal Israeli settlements. Here is the news release with my apologies for its late distribution.

Methodist Church to boycott goods from illegal Israeli settlements
Conference denounces all violence

The Methodist Church has today voted to boycott all products from Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories, and to encourage Methodists across Britain to do the same.

The decision is a response to a call from a group of Palestinian Christians, a growing number of Jewish organisations, both inside Israel and worldwide, and the World Council of Churches. A majority of governments recognise the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories as illegitimate under international law.

Christine Elliott, Secretary for External Relationships, said,“This decision has not been taken lightly, but after months of research, careful consideration and finally, today’s debate at the Conference. The goal of the boycott is to put an end to the existing injustice. It reflects the challenge that settlements present to a lasting peace in the region.

“We are passionate about dialogue across communities and with people of all faiths. We remain deeply committed to our relationships with our brothers and sisters of other faiths, and we look to engage in active listening so that we act as agents of hope together.”

In December, Defra introduced new advice on labelling, recommending that packaging of products imported from the West Bank should distinguish between Palestinian areas and Israeli settlements.

The Conference also adopted a statement calling for a full arms embargo against all sides in the conflict. “This conflict is further fuelled by partisan support by other countries. Violence from all parties in this conflict must be denounced, and a just peace sought for all peoples living in the region,” said Christine.

The move to boycott is just one among a number of measures agreed by the Conference, which also include a commitment to regular and informed prayer for the needs of those in region. Methodists across Great Britain are also encouraged to visit the region, write to their MPs and engage in respectful dialogue with Jews and Muslims on this issue.


This is the World Council of Churches' news release on the work of the Methodist Conference in Portsmouth.

UK Methodists "dare more than words" for just peace in Palestine and Israel

For immediate release: 02 July 2010

The World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit has congratulated the United Kingdom's National Methodist Conference “important and forward looking resolutions by your church around the question of a just peace for Palestine and Israel.”

The conference, which met on 24 June to 1 July in Portsmouth, has received a report entitled “Justice for Palestine and Israel” and voted on 11 resolutions pertaining to it. These include a request to the Methodist Faith and Order Committee to “undertake further work on the theological issues, including Christian Zionism, raised in the report that are needed to guide and support the approach of the Methodist Church to the Israeli/Palestinian situation”.

On a more practical ground, the Conference called on the Methodist people “to support and engage with [the] boycott of Israeli goods” emanating from illegal settlements as their response to a call of the WCC in 2009 supported by Palestinian Christians in the "Kairos document"
[http://www.kairospalestine.ps/] and a growing number of Jewish organizations, both inside Israel and worldwide. The Conference also called for a full arms embargo as an important step towards a just peace in the region.

Tveit underlined the “thoroughness of the process that preceded the inclusive decision making” and stated how the UK Methodists “have set parameters which will be a model worth replicating in many arenas.”

In his letter of congratulation to the president designate of the Methodist Conference, Rev. Lionel Osborn, and to the vice-president designate Ruth Pickles, Tveit expressed deep satisfaction with the “transparent spirit that can provide a genuine space for a church body to develop church policy that embodies the Christian understanding that ‘we are all one’ in the Spirit and one in the Lord.” This oneness was symbolized when the conference prayed the Lord's Prayer together following the vote.

“Palestinian Christians will certainly take courage and strength from the implementation of the report’s resolutions. They will be more courageous in denouncing all forms of violence and to invoke the need for enforcing international law by bringing an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories,” Tveit added. “We trust that Methodists in Great Britain and, indeed, people everywhere will be influenced and impacted by your call to boycott goods from illegal Israeli settlements as a pathway to a lasting and sustainable peace in the region.”

Such actions, he stated, “are visible proof of your irreversible conviction that God demands that we dare more than words.”

Commending the spirit of the resolution, Tveit also recognized "that your agenda is neither divisive in spirit nor in intent. The approved resolutions of the conference are a clear response to the aspirations for a just peace both by Palestinian Christians as well as a growing number of Jewish organizations, both inside Israel and worldwide.”

The Conference also resolved to commend the Palestine/Israel report to local churches, circuits and districts “for reflection and action” and to support the “vital work” of the WCC Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI), encouraging Methodists to volunteer in the programme [http://www.eappi.org/] .

The Methodist Church is the 4th largest Christian denomination in the United Kingdom.

More information on the Methodist Conference in Portsmouth -

WCC Central Committee statement on Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory(September 2009) - http://www.oikoumene.org/resources/documents/central-committee/geneva-2009/reports-and-documents/report-on-public-issues/statement-on-israeli-settlements-in-the-occupied-palestinian-territory.html

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