Written by Anthony Moujaes
The New York Conference of the United Church of Christ took the first steps of a public witness that calls the attention of the church to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with the end goal of achieving two independent nations. Delegates amplified the voice of previous General Synods by passing the Resolution of Witness Regarding the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, calling on solidarity with the Palestinian people and a withdrawal from investing in companies that profit from the occupation of Palestinian territories.
The conference believes the resolution is a positive move to help bring a just and lasting peace in the region, and keeps with the call of General Synod 15 (1985), when the UCC committed to become a Just Peace Church.
"As part of the UCC's commitment to peace and justice, we are proud to have adopted this resolution which affirms Israel's right to exist, Palestinians' right to a sovereign, independent and contiguous state, as well as an end to the building of Jewish settlements on confiscated Palestinian land," said the Rev. David Gaewski, conference minister for the New York Conference of the UCC.
The resolution, however, drives home the notion that there is more work ahead. "While we have made progress in the attention of the conflict, there is not sufficient progress in advocating and accomplishing a sovereign state for Palestinians," Gaewski said.
New York delegates adopted the resolution overwhelmingly during the conference's annual gathering from May 30 through June 1 in Niagara Falls, N.Y.
The resolution was reached through lengthy conversations and consultation with UCC's Palestinian Christian partners, including Kairos Palestine, who have called upon their global partners to engage in non-violent measures to pressure Israel to end its occupation.
The Kairos Palestine document of 2009 called for an alternative to violence, and instead encouraged "non-violent measures pressuring Israel to end its occupation." Kairos Palestine issued a call throughout the world to help fight the Israeli occupation.
The resolution of witness passed by the conference reiterates that call for "solidarity with the Palestinian people."
It also calls upon the wider church to divest their holdings in any company that profits from the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land, and to boycott goods produced by Israeli companies in occupied Palestinian territories.
"These two calls to action are consistent in amplifying the voice of the UCC and General Synod in past pronouncements," said Peter Makari, Global Ministries executive for the Middle East and Europe.
The Rev. James Moos, executive minister of Wider Church Ministries and co-executive of Global Ministries, promised continual advocacy on both sides for lasting peace.
"The United Church of Christ has a long history of advocating for peace based on justice for both Palestinians and Israelis," said Moos. "We will continue to work with Global Ministries' partners in Palestine and Israel for a durable solution to the long-standing conflict."
The final version of the resolution, with amendments, is available online on the New York Conference website.
The resolution, and others from various conferences on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, will be submitted for consideration by the General Synod of the UCC at its biennial gathering June 26-30, 2015, in Cleveland.