Réunion internationale sur la question de Palestine (Genève, 8-9 mars 2005) - Rapport - Publication de la Division des droits palestiniens Français
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At the Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly, Palestinian Christians made clear to American Presbyterians that they would welcome less words and more action. The Reverend Dr. Mitri Raheb, the Palestinian pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church in Bethlehem, told the commissioners of the 216th General Assembly (2004) of the Presbyterian Church (United States of America) that it is not enough to make statements which might be good for discussions within churches, but are not much help to us on the ground. The Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem urged words and actions in support of Palestinians and Israelis working for peace and justice: "[Speaking out] is not anti-Semitic. It's not anti-Jewish. It is anti-Israel-Government policy."
In response to these appeals, the Presbyterian Church (USA) 216th General Assembly (2004) approved a resolution on 2 July 2004 that refers to the Mission Responsibility through Investment Committee with instructions to initiate a process of phased selective divestment in multinational corporations operating in Israel, in accordance with General Assembly policy on social investing, and to make appropriate recommendations to the General Assembly Council for action. One week after the Presbyterian action, the International Court of Justice ruled on 9 July that Israel’s security barrier violates international law because it violates Palestinians’ rights. While we take some comfort in the Israeli Government’s 20 February 2005 decision to modify the route of the wall, we still believe that the wall will neither be a just solution nor contribute to peace.
Jacques French describes the committee as one that encourages corporations to be socially responsible, by addressing issues such as environmental problems, exploitation of workers and complete financial disclosure. The committee was created in response to the Presbyterian belief that the investment of church funds is an instrument of mission and includes theological, social and economic considerations (183rd General Assembly, 1971, General Assembly minutes, UPCUSA, 1971, pages 596–612.) The Committee has worked for more than 30 years at incorporating the policies of the General Assembly into ethical investment decisions for the Board of Pensions and the Presbyterian Foundation. Those policies, broadly speaking, are the pursuit of peace, racial justice, economic and social justice, justice for women and achievement of environmental responsibility. Because of the Committee and similar organizations, investors have channelled more than $2 trillion into socially responsible mutual funds, pension and endowment funds for universities, hospitals and non-profit organizations, and accounts of individual socially responsible investors.
The church’s non-violent use of economic tools for justice clearly works. Today I received a letter from our denominational leaders stating that our church’s boycott of a popular fast-food chain in the United States of America, Taco Bell, is now over because of the company’s agreement to treat migrant workers more fairly.
On 6 November 2004, the Mission Responsibility through Investment Committee of the Presbyterian Church (USA) adopted a classification system and process to identify multinational corporations in Israel and Palestine and to implement the General Assembly policy of phased selective divestment. The Committee will compile a list of multinational corporations operating in Israel and Palestine based on the following criteria:
1. Multinational corporations that provide products or services to or for use by the Israeli police or military to support and maintain the occupation.
2. Multinational corporations that provide products, services or technology of particular strategic importance to the support and maintenance of the occupation.
3. Multinational corporations that have established facilities or operations on occupied land.
4. Multinational corporations that provide products or services, including financial services, for the establishment, expansion or maintenance of Israeli settlements.
5. Multinational corporations that provide products and services, including financial services, to Israeli or Palestinian organizations or groups that support or facilitate violent acts against innocent civilians.
6. Multinational corporations that provide products or services, including financial services, that support or facilitate the construction of the separation barrier.
Progressive Engagement List
A list of multinational corporations identified for progressive engagement by the Committee will be prepared using the classification system, measured against the following factors:
1. History and nature of involvement in Israel and Palestine.
2. Magnitude and strategic importance of involvement.
3. Acts of corporate opposition to the occupation, direct contributions to the victims of the occupation, support of a viable economy for an independent Palestinian State, and non-discrimination against Israeli Arabs or Palestinians in employment practices.
1. The Committee will correspond with the leadership of those multinational corporations, expressing the concerns of the General Assembly and pursuing a process to identify desirable changes in the company's role in Israel and Palestine.