Methodist Conference 2010 resolution on Israel/Palestine
In view of the controversy over the Methodist Conference report “Justice for Palestine and Israel”, I thought it worthwhile to extract the section of the report relating to Israel which was adopted by the Conference as the agreed position of the Church.
7.4.1 that the Methodist Church should affirm the following:
In the belief that peace and reconciliation depend upon justice, fairness and mercy, the Methodist Church has consistently expressed its concern over the illegal Occupation of Palestinian lands by the State of Israel. That Occupation continues not only compounds the state’s illegal and immoral action but also makes any accommodation with the Palestinian people and future peace in the region much less possible. The importance of the Israeli-Palestinian confl ict in affecting the peace of the whole Middle East,
not to say the peace of the world would indicate the responsibility of other nations not to exacerbate the situation by supplying arms to any party. The Goldstone report into the recent confl ict in Gaza indicates the seriousness of actions taken by both sides and requires urgent attention if there is to be any progress towards peace. The proposed visa restrictions which limit entry to Palestinian Authority areas damage Israel’s reputation abroad and the current “Citizenship and Entry into Israel” law restricting the residential rights of married couples will lead to separation of such couples or the withdrawal of citizenship for one partner.
The Methodist Church, therefore:
- calls upon the government of Israel to end the Occupation and engage in discussion with Palestinian authorities with a view to withdrawal from settlements, which are illegal under international law, and from other occupied areas including East Jerusalem.
- reaffirms its opposition to the Separation Wall that divides families, deprives people of agricultural land and denies Palestinians access to health care and repeats the call of the Methodist Conference for the Separation Wall to be pulled down beginning with, as an urgent first step, the very extensive portions located in occupied Palestinian territory, including in and around East Jerusalem
- repeats its call for the lifting of the blockade of Gaza which, as highlighted by the UN and aid agencies, is causing great suffering.
- calls for a full arms embargo against all sides in the conflict.
- expresses its objection to the proposed visa regulations limiting entry into Palestinian Authority areas
- expresses its objection to the current laws restricting residential rights for Palestinians and calls upon the government of Israel to rescind them.
- expresses its concern that the Goldstone report has been rejected by parties to the Gaza conflict and believes that the recommendations of the report should be implemented in full.
- calls for Muslims, Christians and Jews, wherever they may live within Israel/ Palestine, to be able to freely travel to and peacefully worship at their holy sites
- reiterates its deep concern that the rights of Palestinian refugees should be upheld.
In a complex and ever developing situation, it is important that opinion should be adequately informed. Therefore, the Conference calls upon the Methodist people to keep up to date with information about the situation in Israel/Palestine, to reflect on the theology that is needed to form the basis of a proper Christian approach to the Israeli-Palestinian problem, and study what it means to be peacemakers in their own context.
In listening to Church Leaders and our fellow-Christians in Israel Palestine as well as leaders of Palestinian civil society we hear an increasing consensus calling for the imposition of boycott, divestment and sanctions as a major strategy of non-violent resistance to the Occupation. The Conference notes the call of the WCC in 2009 for an ‘international boycott of settlement produce and services’ and calls on the Methodist people to support and engage with this boycott of Israeli goods emanating from illegal settlements (some Methodists would advocate a total boycott of Israeli goods until the Occupation ends).