General Synod 28 delegates on Tuesday chose to table any discussion of the resolution resolution called “In Support of Effective and Constructive Peacemaking between Palestinians and Israelis through Positive Investment in Palestine.”
The floor action followed the recommendation of the committee to take no action.
The 15 delegates who submitted the resolution specifically wanted to avoid “any movement towards boycott, divestment and/or economic sanctions (BDS) which … will serve to encourage more conflict as it seeks to punish one side as if its actions alone are to blame for the failure to reach a peaceful and just solution.”
Instead of fanning the flames of the conflict, the promoters urged the UCC to become “true partners” of the Palestinians by supporting their efforts towards economic improvement and nation-building. Only by creating a viable Palestinian state that can negotiate with Israel as an equal can real peacemaking occur, the supporters said.
The discussion in committee, held prior to the resolution coming before delegates on Tuesday, pivoted around whether BDSs are effective means of bringing about peace in the Middle East. General Synod 25 in 2005 had called for the use of economic leverage to promote peace in the Middle East, including but not limited to BDSs.
Committee members also expressed the opinion that the wider church was already committed to positive investment in Palestine.
“If General Synod were to support this resolution, it might be misinterpreted,” said the Rev. Lori Esslinger, pastor of Flicksville UCC in Bangor, Pa., and a Synod delegate on the committee. “The Middle East needs every available option for a peaceful resolution of the tensions there. People need to be clear that the UCC still supports a negotiated peace process, even while BDSs are still a possibility.”
“I’m sorry that the BDS issue was allowed to sabotage the whole document,” Michael Small of Hackensack, Minn., the author of the resolution, said after the committee vote. “I still want to encourage investment in Palestine.”