Bid to divest from settlements fails

An amendment offered during debate on socially responsible investing that sought to divest from illegal settlements on occupied lands failed 559-167. But General Conference delegates on May 20 adopted a petition on behalf of a Palestinian village, Wadi Foquin.

Earlier during General Conference, the Finance and Administration Legislative Committee failed to support any petition calling for divestment from companies doing business in Israel.

Speaking for the amendment, Janice Nelson, a lay delegate from the Oregon-Idaho Conference, said that staying at the table and pleading with companies to be socially responsible is not working.

“There are companies that are invested in profiting from the occupation of Palestine that we have been talking to for many, many years,” Nelson said. “I would not ask us to divest from anybody until we had done the shareholder advocacy, but that has gone on and on with no results. It’s time to say that we do not profit from the occupation of another people’s lands, which is exactly what is going on. This is not anti-Israel; it’s not anti-Jewish; it’s anti-occupation.”

The Rev. Alex Joyner, a reserve delegate from the Virginia Conference, said that divestment is unfair to Israel as it targets one party as a “bad actor” in the situation.

“Divestment is built on the notion that Israel alone is responsible for the situation of the occupation, and that Israel, alone, can end it,” Joyner said.

He said that the occupation is a deeply troubling reality and it must end, “but targeting settlements for divestment doesn’t address all of the issues that will lead to peace, including security concerns, the right of return, the status of Jerusalem and the question of borders for a free and independent Palestine.”

Delegates also adopted an amended petition on behalf of a Palestinian village, Wadi Foquin, where United Methodists support an Advance project and community development site.

The petition calls on General Conference to send a letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and other State Department officials, U.S.  President Barack Obama, the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem and the Israeli Civil Authority to express “our concerns over the confiscation of land and destruction of life in the village.”

While the petition demands accountability from the Israeli government, the approved amendment deleted a call to withhold foreign aid “until accountability is in place and human rights are restored.”

Erik Alsgaard is a communicator for the Baltimore-Washington Conference. Kathy Gilbert, a United Methodist News Service reporter, contributed to this story. 

News Media Contact: Vicki Brown at (615)742-5470 or [email protected]


Like what you're reading? Support the ministry of UM News! Your support ensures the latest denominational news, dynamic stories and informative articles will continue to connect our global community. Make a tax-deductible donation at ResourceUMC.org/GiveUMCom.

Sign up for our newsletter!

UMNEWS-SUBSCRIPTION
Judicial Council
The Book of Discipline contains the rules that guide The United Methodist Church. The Judicial Council — the denomination’s top court — faces multiple questions related to a new Disciplinary provision that allows congregations to disaffiliate with property under certain conditions. Photo by Mike DuBose, UM News.

Judicial Council to review church-exit rules

The United Methodist Church’s top court faces multiple questions related to the deadline for General Conference legislation and a new law allowing congregations to exit with property.
General Conference
At a Nov. 18 online meeting, the Commission on the General Conference and staff pressed forward with planning for the postponed legislative assembly. After the coronavirus has twice altered their plans, commission members expect to make a final decision in the first quarter of next year on whether General Conference can take place as scheduled Aug. 29-Sept. 6 in Minneapolis. UM News screenshot via Zoom.

Setting criteria for a 2022 General Conference

Organizers named the values that will guide their decision on whether the denomination’s legislative assembly goes forward as scheduled.
Connectional Table
Nordic-Baltic Area Bishop Christian Alsted preaches during the 2016 United Methodist General Conference in Portland, Ore. The Connectional Table chair gave the opening devotion during the leadership body’s online meeting Nov. 17. File photo by Paul Jeffrey, UM News.

Connectional Table aims to restructure

The United Methodist leadership body that coordinates denomination-wide ministries is looking to shrink its size and become more global in membership.