The 222nd biennial General Assembly, which took place in Portland, Oregon this week, the Presbyterian Church (USA) continued its strong support for Palestinian rights through a series of overtures. This information was forwarded by Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum (PIEF) through PIEF Core Group member, Katherine Cunningham.
Under pressure from Presbyterians- RE/MAX announces it will no longer profit from sales of Jewish settlements
An overture calling on real estate company RE/MAX to stop selling properties in Israeli settlements built on occupied Palestinian land in violation of international law and official US policy passed without opposition. In addition, the General Assembly overwhelmingly approved the use of boycotts and other nonviolent measures in support of oppressed peoples throughout the world. These actions follow the historic vote of the General Assembly in 2014 to divest from companies that profit from and sustain Israel’s nearly 50-year-old military occupation of Palestinian lands, as well as the endorsement of a boycott of goods made in settlements.Just prior to the Assembly, the CEO and co-founder of RE/MAX, Dave Liniger, announced in a letter sent to the overture advocates of the Presbytery of the Redwoods that the company has “recently taken action to ensure that RE/MAX, LLC will no longer receive any income from the sale of Jewish settlement properties in the West Bank.”
“We’re pleased that RE/MAX is acknowledging that its operations in the occupied territories are problematic from a legal and moral point of view, but we’re waiting to see what this means in practical terms,” said Marita A. Mayer, the overture advocate. “RE/MAX must follow up this statement with concrete action to fully end its complicity in Israel’s occupation and theft of Palestinian land.”
In addition to the RE/MAX overture, the plenary of the General Assembly supported by over 70% a continuing study of the global grassroots BDS (Boycott, Divest and Sanctions) movement for Palestinian rights and freedom. Rejecting attempts to categorically reject BDS and choosing instead to engage in prayerful study, the General Assembly recognized the historic commitment of the Presbyterian Church (USA) to nonviolent strategies for social change.
The plenary also approved a report submitted by the church’s Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy (ACSWP) supporting measures that revoke tax deductions and 501(c) 3 status to organizations that promote and finance illegal Israeli settlements, encouraging Congress to investigate the use of US-made equipment in Israeli human rights violations, and supporting the enforcement of laws requiring the correct labeling of settlement products.
The Israel-Palestine Mission Network (IPMN) of the Presbyterian Church (USA) welcomes the advances made at this year’s General Assembly towards supporting a just and lasting peace in Israel and Palestine, and looks forward to continuing our work towards that end moving forward.
Actions in advocacy of Palestinian children and against military detention-
222nd biennial General Assembly
The approved text of the overture in advocacy of Palestinian children and against military detention:
- Affirm the support of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) for the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child as expressed by the 202nd General Assembly (1990), and for the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child as expressed by the 221st General Assembly (2014).
- Calls, once again, upon the United States Senate to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and directs the Stated Clerk to communicate this call to all members of the United States Senate, the president, and the vice president.
- Directs the Presbyterian Mission Agency, through the Office of Public Witness, to advocate and witness for the human rights of the children of Palestine and Israel until there is an amendment in the practices of the state of Israel so that they are in compliance with international humanitarian laws, specifically the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. In particular, mobilize Presbyterians everywhere to communicate with their senators, congresspersons, and the president of the United States their concern for the safety and well-being of the children of Palestine who suffer widespread and systematic patterns of ill treatment and torture within the Israeli military detention system, including but not limited to
- the use of physical violence (beatings, blindfolding, position abuse are examples) and psychological pressure (solitary confinement, threats of sexual assault and rape, verbal abuse, strip searching, threats, denial of food, water, and access to a toilet) to compel children and youth to give testimony, confess guilt, or to provide otherwise incriminating statements against their family, friends, and communities;
- denial of due process guarantees, including denial of the right to prompt access to legal counsel and other appropriate assistance, particularly the presence of a parent or family member during interrogation;
- psychosocial effects and obstacles to reintegration when released from the Israeli military prisons, loss of educational opportunities while in detentions, and access to education following their release from custodial detention;
- the discriminatory legal framework in force in the Occupied Palestinian Territory involving separate laws governing children based on religion or ethnicity (no Israeli child comes into contact with the military court system); and
- violent, late-night raids and arrests by heavily armed soldiers who invade their homes while they and their family members are asleep.
- Call on the government of Israel to change its military detention system to
- stop night arrests;
- stop blindfolds and restraints;
- stop separation from parents and legal counsel;
- stop physical abuse and verbal threats; and
- stop isolation and coerced confessions.
5. Call on the Palestinian Authority, Hamas, and the government of Israel to denounce and cease the incitement of violence against children or at the hands of children.