Presbyterian committee passes call for divestment from occupation profiteers

Alex Kane on July 3, 2012 | Mondoweiss

Caterpillar bulldozer, occupied territories

The Presbyterian committee on the Middle East has voted overwhelmingly in favor of divesting from three companies whose products are used by the Israeli military.

The vote this morning, with 36 in favor, 11 against and 1 abstention, is a boon to divestment activists who hope that the full Presbyterian general assembly will vote to divest. It removes the last barrier to a full plenary vote, which is set for Thursday or Friday of this week.

Here’s the Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian church statement on the vote:

The Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (USA) is pleased to announce that today Committee 15 of the 220th General Assembly voted in favor of Resolution 15-11, which calls for divestment from Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard, and Motorola Solutions, over Israel’s use of their products in violations of Palestinian human rights. In voting to support divestment, committee members also recommended that the church reinvest divested funds into companies engaging in peaceful pursuits in Israel and Palestine.

“This is an encouraging step,” said Rev. Dr. Walt Davis, IPMN Education Co-Chair. “We hope plenary voters will follow the lead of Committee 15 and the recommendations of the Mission Responsibility Through Investing committee and support divestment from these companies that are profiting from Israel’s violations of Palestinian human rights. It’s been a long and thorough process and it’s finally time for the church to stop profiting from the suffering the peoples of the Holy Land.”

You can read the resolution here.

Caterpillar makes bulldozers that are outfitted by the Israeli military and used to destroy Palestinian homes. The corporation suffered a blow after the pension fund TIAA-CREF divested some holdings in the company last month following a decision by MSCI, a Wall Street investment service firm, to take Caterpillar off its index of “socially responsible” companies.

Hewlett-Packard and Motorola are also companies whose products are used to sustain Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank.

The vote came after a marathon session yesterday that featured heated debate over the measure.

The one abstention on the vote came from Ken Page, a Presbyterian commissioner from Florida who went on a Jewish Council for Public Affairs junket to Israel. He recused himself from all votes to avoid charges of bias.

Even before the vote, Israel lobbyists were fretting about the chances that the divestment resolution had. It appears their nervousness was justified.

Jewish Voice for Peace has a petition up encouraging Presbyterians to “vote your conscience on divestment from corporations profiting from the Occupation.” Sign it here.

About Alex Kane

Alex Kane is a staff reporter for Mondoweiss. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

Watch Caught on Camera: Ethnic Cleansing

Latest Reports of the United Nations

  • New UN Report Shows Sharp Rise In Palestinians Uprooted By Israeli Demolitions – IMEMC – Jan 27, 2012
  • Report OCHA – Demolitions & Forced Displacement – Year 2011 – Report | PDF

Israel’s Jerusalem municipality plans to build more than 50,000 (updated Dec 3, 2011: 85.000) new homes in the city’s occupied eastern sector over two decades:

  • 23,628 homes have already been approved, 20,263 in East Jerusalem and 3,365 in the west.
  • 13,824 are pending review, 12,819 in East Jerusalem and 1,005 in the west.
  • 23,266 housing units are still in planning stages, 19,281 in the east and 3,985 in the west.

Of these, the municipality plans:

  • 10,366 homes in northern East Jerusalem, including illegal Israeli settlement Pisgat Zeev and Palestinian town Beit Hanina.
  • 5,239 homes in southern East Jerusalem, including Gilo settlement and Palestinian district Beit Safafa.
  • 4,886 new units in central eastern Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan and Jerusalem’s Old City.

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Besides this, Israel approved plans to ethnic cleanse 57.000 bedouin from Palestine

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