Resolution proposed by
Episcopal Peace Fellowship group, CTK, Valdosta
November 1, 2010
Strategies for Peace in Israel/Palestine
Whereas the Israeli occupation in the West Bank has now lasted more than 43 years and the often violent stand-off in Israel/Palestine has reached a critical stage where concerted, sustained U.S. leadership for peace is essential, with delay no longer being an option;
Whereas the Episcopal Church has joined others from the three Abrahamic traditions in a September 29, 2010 declaration supporting the President and Secretary of State as they provide high-level diplomatic engagement in the search for a two-state solution;
Whereas the contours of such a solution are as clear as ever: security and universal recognition for the state of Israel; the creation of a viable, secure, and sovereign Palestinian state; and a sharing of Jerusalem as the capital of both states;
Whereas the resumption of construction of Israeli settlements on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem on September 26, 2010 threatens to derail the efforts of the United States Government to seek such a peace;
Whereas other mainline Christian denominations and some within the Episcopal Church have concluded that it is time to exert economic pressure on Israel to stop such construction and negotiate an end to the occupation;
Resolved, That the Episcopal Peace Fellowship group of Christ the King has for years conducted a series of forums in Valdosta and surrounding communities to inform and educate the general public, clergy and laity about conditions in Israel/Palestine and to discuss possible strategies to bring about a non-violent end to the occupation, an end to violent attacks on both Palestinians and Israelis, and the establishment of a just and lasting peace between the two peoples; and plans to continue those discussions and
Resolved, That the Episcopal Peace Fellowship group of Christ the King requests that the Diocese recommend to the 162nd Convention a modification of the Episcopal Church Guidelines on Responsible Investments to accommodate a policy of divestment, boycott and economic sanctions that would be helpful to those ends ( a just and equitable resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict) as Archbishop Desmond Tutu has recommended to his own country’s government.
Resolved, That the Episcopal Peace Fellowship group of Christ the King requests that the Diocese form a Diocesan Committee on Social Justice or a Diversity, Social and Environmental Team like Sewanee. There are many such committees across the globe and here in the United States. The Diocesan Council of the Episcopal Diocese of Spokane established a Commission for Social Justice and Outreach Ministries in 2006. The Commission was chartered for the purpose of facilitating and coordinating existing programs in the diocese that touch one or more elements of Social Justice and Outreach Ministries. There are approximately twenty-two members on the Commission, with staggered terms, with at least one member from each deanery. Perhaps we could use their model?
The following is offered by the Peace Fellowship as an explanation and is not part of the resolution (above) which is being considered for adoption.
The Israeli occupation of the West Bank has now lasted 43 years, during which time more than half a million Israeli Jews have settled on Palestinian land there contrary to international law. Meanwhile, the right of Palestinians to travel has been severely hindered by a “separation fence” – in many places a 30-foot high wall – and hundreds of internal checkpoints.
More recently, Israel – in response to the election of a Hamas government there – has blockaded the tiny Gaza Strip (23 x 6 miles), home to 1.5 million Palestinians, for nearly three years, obstructing the free flow of humanitarian supplies and travel in and out.
The conditions of this occupation and blockade are detailed in the Kairos Palestine Document of December 11, 2009, “An Urgent Call of Palestinian Christians” (http://www.fosna.org/content/kairos-palestine-document-full-text).
The result has been an unrelenting cycle of violence that has included two Palestinian uprisings or intifadas that led to thousands of deaths on both sides; sporadic rocket attacks from Gaza on southern Israel that have claimed dozens more killed; and the December 2008 Israeli assault on Gaza that killed over 1,300 Palestinians, the vast majority civilians and more than half women and children. The nature of that latter assault – Cast Lead – is vividly recounted by the Norwegian physician Mads Gilbert in Eyes in Gaza (http://www.amazon.com/Eyes-Gaza-Mads-Gilbert/dp/070437191X).
Most recently, the Israeli attack this spring on an international flotilla seeking to bring humanitarian aid to Gaza resulted in the deaths of ten Turkish and American civilians. In her June 2, 2010 letter to President Obama expressing her “deep concern” over that attack, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori called for an end to the Gaza blockade and peace between Israel and Palestine based on a two-state solution (http://www.fosna.org/content/gaza-episcopal-church-presiding-bishop-letter-obama).
After months of shuttle diplomacy, President Obama brought together the leaders of Israel and Palestine on August 31, 2010 to begin face-to-face negotiations aimed at achieving such a solution. Following the resumption of construction of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem on September 26, however, those negotiations have foundered.
In light of these events and recognizing the urgency of the situation, 28 leaders of the three Abrahamic traditions came together to issue the National Interreligious Leadership Initiative for Peace in the Middle East “New Hope for the Peace of Jerusalem” (http://www.nili-mideastpeace.org/downloads/2010_09PressRelease.pdf). See also the ENS report at http://www.episcopalchurch.org/79425_124809_ENG_HTM.htm).
Meanwhile, several churches and secular organizations have come to the conclusion that it is time to exert economic pressure on Israel to stop such construction and negotiate an end to the occupation. To that end, some churches such as the Presbyterians (http://www.fosna.org/content/faq-what-did-presbyterian-assembly-do-actions-middle-east) and Methodists (http://www.fosna.org/content/united-methodists-vote-divest) have sought to impose a variety of boycotts, disinvestments, and sanctions (BDS).
On October 4, 2002, Social Responsibility in Investments Committee of the Episcopal Church eschewed BDS and expressed a preference for “corporate engagement.” (http://www.fosna.org/content/episcopal-church-adopts-resolution-corporate-engagement-and-positive-investment-palestiniani). This April, however, Archbishop Desmond Tutu declared that “Divesting is the right thing to do.” (http://www.fosna.org/content/united-methodists-vote-divest). Then, on May 12, 2010 the National Executive Council of Episcopal Peace Fellowship issued a statement in support of economic sanctions and divestment strategies that it believes “can inspire a more useful dialog and negotiation towards a just and lasting peace in the Middle East,” a move decried by Bishop John Bryson Chane of Washington, D.C. (http://www.fosna.org/content/episcopal-peace-fellowship-supports-economic-sanctions).
A compendium of further documentation on this issue can be found on the website of Sabeel, the Palestinian Christian Ecumenical Liberation Theology group headed by The Rev. Naim Attek, a CDSP graduate (http://www.fosna.org/news).