Middle East Resolutions on Peace, Education Approved by Deputies

After spirited debate, the House of Deputies passed two resolutions on Palestine, B019 and C060, calling for the end of hostilities between Palestine and Israel, and asking that the Church work harder to educate Episcopalians about the situation in the Middle East.

In presenting B019, “Israeli-Palestinian Peace and Support for the Diocese of Jerusalem,” Deputy Russell Randle, Virginia, chair of the Deputies Committee of National and International Concerns, said that the committee “was united in recognizing that it is very hard to be a Christian in Gaza and the occupied territories of the West Bank, and that Palestinian Christians deserve the wholehearted support of the Episcopal Church.”

B019 focuses heavily on support for the Diocese of Jerusalem, which has “persevered through great tribulation,” said Randle. The Rt. Rev. Suheil Dawani of Jerusalem has “told us in the Episcopal Church to come and see and then go back and tell our people what they have seen and learned.”

The Very Rev. Brian Grantz, Northern Indiana, called B019 a “thoughtful, careful statement of extraordinary diplomacy from the Episcopal Church.”

C060, “Peace in Palestinian/Israeli Conflict,” calls for the Church to educate Episcopalians about the conflict in the Middle East, and to participate in a “more vigorous and public corporate engagement with companies in the Church’s investment portfolio that do business in illegal Israeli settlements or contribute to the infrastructure of the Occupation.”

“What this engagement will look like is to be decided on a case-by-case basis,” Randle said, “but the objective is to improve the situation for Palestinians who are suffering very severe economic hardship as a result of measures taken by the Israeli government.”

There had been calls, in testimony before the committee, for an economic  boycott of Israel. However, Randle said, “the committee believes any such boycott approach would be unwise and ineffective in addressing human rights concerns and promoting peace.”

The debate over B019 and D060 were combined under a special order, meaning that both were talked about at the same time. However, the resolutions went to individual ballots. Both were passed without amendment.

Although numerous amendments were put forward during debate, all of them failed. Both substitute resolutions passed as presented.

–Reported by John Schwartz, written by Lauren R. Stanley

Categories: GC2012