Presbyterian committee votes to support divestment proposal

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The Committee on Middle East and Peacemaking Issues of the Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly approved a resolution in Pittsburgh this morning by a vote of 36-11 with one abstention to divest from companies whose products are used by Israel to enforce occupation of the West Bank.

The resolution recommends that the church divest from Caterpillar, Motorola and Hewlett-Packard after an eight-year corporate engagement process yielded no reforms. The general church body will vote on the resolution later this week.

The vote during the church's biannual meeting, held Downtown at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, followed more than a day of testimony and debate among committee members.

Supporters of divestment invoked Palestinian suffering and said that Christian values compelled them to take action against perceived injustice.

Those opposed to divestment worried about rupturing a close relationship with American Jews and asked that the church continue to engage with the companies in question.

The committee added a sentence to the resolution affirming the church's commitment to "continuing investment in [companies] operating in Israel and Palestine that support peaceful pursuits." The committee also appended a comment explaining that divestment will occur over a series of months.

On Monday, Brian Ellison, chair of the Mission Responsibility through Investment committee, charged Hewlett-Packard with selling hardware used by Israel in its naval blockade of Gaza, Motorola with supplying surveillance technology to Israeli settlements and Caterpillar with providing militarized machines that raze Palestinian homes.

Following the vote, the committee turned and clapped in thanks to spectators and advocates who told their stories over the course of the meeting.

breaking - region

Benjamin Mueller: bmueller@post-gazette.com or 412-263-4903.


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