Methodist Church to discuss ways to increase divestment of Israel

A sign painted on a wall in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, calling for a boycott of Israeli products (Thomas Coex - AFP)

Middle East Monitor  /  January 27, 2021

Methodist Church leaders are today discussing a move intended to increase economic action against Israel, the Jewish Chronicle has reported. The church is said to have growing concerns over Jewish only illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories and is seeking new ways to support its longstanding policy to divest from companies that profit from the occupation.

A report discussed by the Methodist Council says the humanitarian situation of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank has “worsened considerably” and describes conditions in Gaza as “inhumane”, the JC said.

A report by the church said that “the expanding settlement population… increases the likelihood that companies operating across Israel will have exposure to activity in Israeli settlements.” Members are anxious the church may be holding stakes in companies that benefit from the occupation.

In 2019 the Methodist Church of Southern Africa (MCSA) – to which the South African President Nelson Mandela belonged – joined the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Announcing its support for the boycott of Israel the two million strong church noted “Israel’s ongoing ill-treatment and oppression of Palestinian people, and the historic prophetic role played by the church and international community in fighting Apartheid, and any form of discrimination and injustice.”

MCSA is part of a growing number of faith groups to back the BDS movement. US faith groups published a statement in support of the right to boycott, asserting that the BDS campaign is protected by the First Amendment.