US church votes to divest over Israeli occupation

Growing list of US-based churches taking some action to divest and boycott Israeli products and companies with businesses in Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

The United Church of Christ, one of the largest Protestant denominations in the country, has overwhelmingly voted to divest from companies that profit from Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories and boycott goods made in Israeli settlements.

The denomination’s top legislative body approved the resolution on a vote of 508-124 with 39 abstentions at its synod in Cleveland.

The church, a Protestant denomination with around a million members, had passed a resolution in 2005, calling for the use of “economic leverage” on Israel and accused the Israeli government of widespread human rights abuses against the Palestinians.

The Episcopal Church and the Mennonite Church USA is expected to vote on Tuesday night and Wednesday on joining the international movement to boycott Israel over its treatment of Palestinians.  

The latest vote came at a time when the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, which encourages organisations and institutions such as universities and churches to divest Israel, said its efforts are bearing fruit in Europe and at many US college campuses.

Inspired by sanctions campaign against apartheid South Africa, the movement has sought to find alternative means to put pressure on Israel to end its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, and give its own Palestinian citizens equal rights.

TRTWorld and agencies