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UMC Regional Bodies Adopt 8 Resolutions Addressing Palestinian Rights in 2019
July 2019 – Ethical investing, particularly regarding government bonds, and the plight of Palestinian children were the primary focus of eight resolutions related to Palestinian rights that United Methodist annual conferences (regional bodies) in the United States adopted in May and June 2019.
United Methodists for Kairos Response (UMKR), the denomination-wide movement for a just peace in the Holy Land, prepared and disseminated several resolutions on the subject of church investments for the use of activists throughout the church in 2019.
Three annual conferences – New England, Upper New York, and Northern Illinois – adopted resolutions urging church bodies to avoid investing in the government bonds (or “sovereign debt”) of any country engaged in a prolonged military occupation.
Additionally, the New England and Northern Illinois conferences adopted a related resolution that petitions the UMC General Conference to amend the United Methodist Book of Discipline. The petition calls for adding to Paragraph 717, which deals with church policy on investments, the text: “United Methodist institutions should similarly not hold sovereign or government debt in states conducting prolonged military occupations as they violate international law and human rights standards.”
Besides the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory, there are other “prolonged military occupations” of concern to human rights defenders that are named in the resolutions: Morocco’s occupation of Western Sahara and Turkey’s occupation of Northern Cyprus. See the text of these resolutions and learn more about the issues they address in UMKR’s Questions & Answers resources on our website.
Amending the Book of Discipline, which comprises the doctrine, laws, and policies of the United Methodist Church, can only be done by the General Conference, which will be meeting in May 2020, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Israel’s military detention and abuse of Palestinian children has long been a key action issue for UMKR; in 2018, it was the primary focus of many annual conference resolutions. This year UMKR activists continued that work, with a resolution adopted in the Peninsula Delaware conference (see the text in this compilation of all resolutions submitted in that conference) and two resolutions in the California-Nevada conference (see the text of all Cal-Nev 2019 legislation that was adopted here).
The Peninsula-Delaware resolution, “In Support of Relief for Children in Crisis,” pertains to children at risk throughout the world, including “Palestinian children [who] are being incarcerated and held indefinitely without due process in the occupied territories and subjected to maltreatment.” The resolution directs the conference’s resident bishop to communicate these concerns to the federal Senators and Representatives of Maryland and Delaware.
California-Nevada’s resolution on “The Least of These: Speaking Up for the Children of Gaza” describes in detail the alarming living conditions created by the “brutal blockade” of the Gaza Strip “for over 12 years which, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross, constitutes “a collective punishment imposed in clear violation of Israel’s obligations under international humanitarian law.”
This resolution also highlights the “Great March of Return,” the weekly protest that Gazans have engaged in, to their peril, for over a year, suffering the violent, indiscriminate, and disproportionate response by Israeli military, killing 43 children during a seven-month period, injuring over 2,200, hundreds of those due to live ammunition. The resolution calls for several actions, including political engagement, that provide a “means of involving Conference children and adults in assisting the children of Gaza.”
The second Cal-Nevada 2019 resolution, “Towards Ending Child Incarceration Through Support for the Rights of Children,” addresses the injustice of criminalizing children in the US justice system as well as the plight of Palestinian children and lifts up the pending Congressional bill H.R. 2407: “Promoting Human Rights for Palestinian Children Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act.” In 2018, this annual conference endorsed the earlier version of this bill, HR. 4391.
UMKR commends the dedicated advocates who successfully lead these resolutions through the legislative processes of their conferences, and all of our movement’s activists who are keeping
the issue of Palestinian rights in the forefront of United Methodists’ justice concerns throughout
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for our work to continue.