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Minute on Certain Economic Measures for Peace in Israel/Palestine

22 February 2005

WCC Central Committee, Geneva, 15-22 February, 2005

In the conflict in Israel and Palestine there is a renewal of hope although there
is not yet a reduction of the threats that separate the parties to the conflict.

Palestinians have now organized two elections with constructive effect, despite
continuing occupation, and plan another at mid-year. The churches welcome that
momentum is building for peace and for solutions which credibly engage those
who must make peace, the powerful as well as the weak.

The churches note the growing witness and impact of church engagement that
includes both Israelis and Palestinians. The WCC-led Ecumenical Accompaniment
Programme (EAPPI) is present and supportive of both Palestinians and Israelis
who suffer under current circumstances. There is also growing interest among
churches in taking new actions that demonstrate commitment to and enhance
prospects for a just, equitable and lasting peace in both Israel and Palestine.

Notable among these are initiatives within churches to become better stewards
of justice in economic affairs which link them to on-going violations of international
law in occupied territory. The Central Committee takes note of the current
action by the Presbyterian Church (USA) which has initiated a process of phased,
selective divestment from multinational corporations involved in the occupation.
This action is commendable in both method and manner, uses criteria rooted in
faith, and calls members to do the "things that make for peace" (Luke 19:42).

The concern here is to abide by law as the foundation for a just peace. Multinational
corporations have been involved in the demolition of Palestinian homes, and are
involved in the construction of settlements and settlement infrastructure on occupied
territory, in building a dividing wall which is also largely inside occupied
territory, and in other violations of international law being carried out beyond
the internationally recognized borders of the State of Israel determined by the
Armistice of 1949.

In this 38th year of occupation the desire for a just and equitable peace is growing.

For churches of the WCC such hopes are guided by positions and programmes
that reflect a search for truth amid much trouble.

The WCC has called, since 1969, for "effective international guarantees for the
political independence and territorial integrity of all nations in the area, including
Israel" and restated the concern at regular intervals, most recently in recognizing,
in 2004, Israel's "serious and legitimate security concerns".

In 1992, the WCC Central Committee stated that "criticism of the policies of
the Israeli government is not in itself anti-Jewish". During the Oslo peace process
of the 1990s churches supported civil society projects of rapprochement between
communities in conflict in the Holy Land.

In 1995, the Central Committee established criteria for economic actions in the
service of justice, namely, that these must be part of a broader strategy of peace-
making, address flagrant and persistent violations, have a clear and limited purpose
plus proportionality and adequate monitoring, and be carried out transparently.

In 2001, the WCC Executive Committee recommended an international boycott
of goods produced in illegal settlements on occupied territory, and the WCCrelated
APRODEV agencies in Europe are now working to have Israeli settlement
products fully and properly identified before shipment to the European
Community in accordance with the terms of the EU's Association Agreement
with Israel.

Yet illegal activities in occupied territory continue as if a viable peace for both
peoples is not a possibility. We are not blind to facts and must not be complicit
in them even unwittingly. The Central Committee, meeting in Geneva 15-22
February, 2005, therefore:

encourages member churches to work for peace in new ways and to give serious
consideration to economic measures that are equitable, transparent and non-violent;

persuades member churches to keep in good contact with sister churches embarking
on such initiatives with a view to support and counsel one another;

urges the establishment of more and wider avenues of engagement between
Christian, Muslim and Jewish communities pursuing peace;

reminds churches with investment funds that they have an opportunity to use
those funds responsibly in support of peaceful solutions to conflict. Economic
pressure, appropriately and openly applied, is one such means of action.

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