UK parish churches urged to implement Israel boycott

According to the Church of England newspaper, fifteen parish groups have united together and written to dozens of other churches asking them to take out their funds from the Church‘s Central Board of Finance (CBF) until the boycott is implemented.

The campaign comes after such a time that it ends its contributions with companies related to the occupation of the Palestinian lands in the Middle-East.

The grass-roots rebellion comes after Britain‘s state established church reassured the Jewish community that it did not plan to withdraw its Pounds 2.3 million (Dlrs 4.2 m) investment in Caterpillar, whose bulldozers are used by Israel to destroy Palestinian homes.

This is despite landmark overwhelming decision made the Church‘s general synod last month to divest funds from firms profiting from Israel‘s illegal occupation, which included the support of the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.

Rev Stephen Sizer, the Vice Chair of Friends of Sabeel UK, which seeks a durable peace in the occupied territories, condemned the reversal, saying that Christians should visit Palestine to see the destruction caused by the Caterpillar machines.

He said that the rebellion by parishes was gaining momentum and was quoted by the Church newspaper, expressing hope that the number backing the boycott could rise to hundreds.

The reassurance to the Jewish community came after the Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EIAG) reaffirmed its previous decision, taken last year, to not recommend disinvestment despite the growing calls.

After a special meeting last week, EIAG chair, John Reynolds, who reportedly concluded that the investment in US-owned Caterpillar was not "so controversial among Christians as to undermine the credibility and unity of the Church‘s witness."

In particular, the advisory board claimed there were no current or projected sales of Caterpillar equipment for use by the Israeli government, and furthermore it no longer has direct sales to the Israeli Government.

There was "no compelling evidence that Caterpillar is or has been accomplice in human rights abuses," it said.

The US firm, which has been the target of protests including at its plants in the UK, has insisted that it has not provided the earth movers directly to Israel but only to the US military which sold them on to the Zionist regime.