Cleveland – The top legislative body of the United Church of Christ voted Tuesday to divest from companies with business in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories, in a sign of the growing momentum of a U.S. protest movement against Israeli policy.
The denomination’s General Synod endorsed the action on a vote of 508-124 with 38 abstentions during its meeting in Cleveland.
The liberal Protestant group is the latest to take such action. Last year, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) voted to sell stock in a few companies whose products are used by Israel in the territories.
The United Church of Christ resolution was broader. Delegates are calling on the denomination’s financial arms to sell off stock in any company profiting from what the church called human rights violations arising from the occupation. The church also voted to boycott products made in the territories.
Peter Makari of Global Ministries, an agency that is part of the United Church of Christ, said the resolutions “reflect our urgent concern for the worsening effects of the Israeli occupation on Palestinian people and lives, including the disparity in rights and power.” The church affirmed Israel’s right to exist, along with a “sovereign, independent” Palestinian state.
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said the denomination’s policies have “reflected the most radical politics for more than a decade and in no way reflect a moral stance or reality-based position.”