Episcopal Church Policy on Israel/Palestine
Listing of major policies
From General Convention:
1979 – affirms the right of Israel to exist as a free State within secure borders, expresses support for the opportunity to establish a free and independent Palestinian state which recognizes the State of Israel, recognizes the uniqueness of the city of Jerusalem and urges a solution which would guarantee free and secure access to the Holy City by people of all faiths
1982 – Calls upon all parties to the conflict in the Middle East to lay down their arms, and to settle their disputes by direct negotiations and mutual recognition; Supports the right of Palestinian people to exercise responsibility for their political future, with the proviso that the Palestinians recognize the legitimacy of the State of Israel
1985 – express its opposition to the movement of the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, except within the context of a broad resolution of Middle East problems, with the status of Jerusalem having been determined by negotiation and not by unilateral action by any one community, religion, race or nation
1988 – affirm the existence of the State of Israel and its right to recognized and secure borders, as well as the civic and human rights of all those who live within its borders; affirm the right of the Palestinians to self-determination, including choice of their own representatives and the establishment of their own state
1991 -supports the existence of Israel as a sovereign state, the democratic and humanitarian inspired homeland for displaced Jewish people, assist in the creation of a Palestinian State, and, assist Israel to secure the human rights of indigenous Arabs within Israel; require the State of Israel to account to the Government of the United States for all aid in whatever form that the United States grants to the States of Israel and its instrumentalities in compliance with all sections of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 and to hold in escrow aid to Israel by an amount equal to any expenditures by the Government of Israel to expand, develop or further establish Israeli settlements in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem and only release the aid from escrow if proof is given that settlements are not being established; recognize that a distinction exists between the propriety of legitimate criticism of Israeli governmental policy and action and the impropriety of anti-Jewish prejudice
1994 – requests the President of the United States and the Members of Congress to take appropriate steps to ensure that no assistance provided the State of Israel shall be used to cause the relocation of Palestinian people from their homes, nor for new settlements to be located in the occupied areas of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem; with further relocations and new settlements to result in the immediate curtailment of aid from the United States; ; make those funds available to Israeli settlers leaving the occupied territories for resettlement in pre-1967 Israel and equally for Palestinians accepting the principles of compensation for their lands and homes in Israel; recognize that Israeli settlements in
the Gaza Strip and the occupied territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem are illegal under international law and an obstacle to peace; the peace process between the government of Israel and the Palestinian [sic] Liberation Organization requires that the United States adhere to a single standard of justice in its diplomatic efforts to support the peace process and in granting aid to both Israel and Palestine; requires the United States to condition aid to the newly autonomous Palestinian Authority on its abandonment of violence as a tactic of struggle; recognizes that such a standard requires the United States to condition aid and loan guarantees to Israel on its abandonment of violence as a tactic of civilian control and on the release of all Palestinian political prisoners and detainees
1997 – affirm that Jerusalem should serve as the capital for two sovereign and independent states, Israel and Palestine; the government of Israel should remove forthwith all roadblocks and obstacles preventing free access to Jerusalem for Palestinians; the government of Israel should change its planning policies so that Palestinians have equal rights to build housing in Jerusalem and develop their institutions which have been restricted since 1967; East Jerusalem, as an integral part of the occupied territories, should be included in all political arrangements relating to those territories, including self-determination, release of prisoners, right of return, and eventual sovereignty
2000– affirm the principle of the right of return for every Palestinian, as well as restitution/compensation for their loss as called for by the United Nations
2003 – recognize that the 360 kilometer long Israeli security wall currently under construction and the proposed additional 240 kilometer extension are impediments to the implementation of the performance-based roadmap leading to a final and comprehensive negotiated settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; encourage dioceses … to learn about the plight of and provide support for women and children of all faiths in war torn areas, recent examples including Israel/Palestine…; recognize that Israeli demolition of Palestinian homes in the Gaza Strip and the Occupied Territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem is illegal under international law and is a deterrent to the peace process, and therefore call upon the President and the U.S. government to urge the State of Israel to end its policy of the demolition of Palestinian homes;
2006– no action (see Executive Council, 2006)
2009 – no action (see Executive Council, 2010)
2012 – A015 Convention commends the “Arab Spring” democratic movements in the Middle East and North Africa for their witness to justice and human rights, and to the power of popular nonviolent organizing for political, economic and societal change. Convention calls on the United States government to continue exercising leadership within the international community for adopting a universal standard for democracy, that includes participatory governance marked by freedom of religion, speech and assembly: a commitment to the rule of law and to equality before the law; the acceptance of state monopoly over the use of force, and adherence to international agreements to which a country is bound; and that the General Convention reaffirms Resolution 1991-A149, ), “Urge a Full Accounting of the Use of Foreign Aid in the Middle East,” adopted by the 70th General Convention, (see 1991 above “require the State of Israel to account to the Government of the United States for all aid in whatever form that the United States grants to the States of Israel and its instrumentalities in compliance with all sections of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 and to hold in escrow aid to Israel by an amount equal to any expenditures by the Government of Israel to expand, develop or further establish Israeli settlements in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem and only release the aid from escrow if proof is given that settlements are not being established and calls on the President of the United States for a full accounting of how United States foreign aid, including military aid, is used in the Middle East and North Africa, in recognition that transparency is critical for requiring accountability from aid recipients; Convention calls upon the President of the United States to seek accountability for those policies and practices of recipients of United States aid that contradict and undermine core democratic principles, as well as those United States laws and statutes that define legal uses of United States funding;
B019 – General Convention encourage all dioceses, as well as the Executive Council and the Standing Commission on Anglican and International Peace with Justice Concerns, to engage actively in the discipline of advocacy, education, and prayer for peace between Israelis and Palestinians, as well as the provision of humanitarian aid that promotes peace and reconciliation, affirm the importance of interfaith dialogue in the resolution of the Arab-Israeli-Palestinian conflict, both in the Holy Land itself and in other contexts around the world; and decry religious extremism and fundamentalism in all their forms and the violence that arises from their expression, urges all congregations to seek, over the next Triennium, to engage with local Jewish and Muslim congregations to study peace with justice in the Middle East, and urges that the narratives and theologies that inform the conversation on peace with justice in the Middle East be particular focuses of attention; and that the Theology Committee of the House of Bishops, the Standing Commission on Anglican and International Peace with Justice Concerns, the resources of the Episcopal seminaries, and the Advocacy and Networking Committee of the Executive Council be called upon to support, through the triennium, the Jewish, Muslim, and Christian study on peace with justice in the Middle East, and produce an annotated bibliography of resources to be posted on the website of The Episcopal Church; and that the triennial study groups on Middle East peace with justice prepare a report sharing what they learned about a constructive path to peace with justice, and that these reports be collected and shared with the Church by the Standing Commission on Anglican and International Peace with Justice Concerns; and that the Presiding Bishop develop an interfaith model pilgrimage composed equally of Episcopalians, Jews, and Muslims in order to further encourage the travel of pilgrims and witnesses to the Holy Land in order to experience the multiple narratives of the diverse peoples who call the land their home; and that the General Convention affirm positive investment as a necessary means to create a sound economy and a sustainable infrastructure in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and that Episcopalians give priority to investment in the institutions of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, which provide healthcare, education, and social services without discrimination on the basis of religion, political ideology, gender, socioeconomic standing, or national identity; and that the work of the American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem and the Good Friday Offering be commended to all Episcopalians and that Convention urge the Economic Justice Loan Committee to consider a loan of at least $200,000 to strengthen the economic infrastructure of the Palestinian territories.
2015 – Added to the large body of policy related to Palestine and Israel dating back to 1979, the 78th General Convention adopted two resolutions (see texts below). Neither broke new ground and essentially continues the Church’s policy in support of the two state solution, Israel and a sovereign state of Palestine. The Convention did not take note of the United Nations action giving observer status to the state of Palestine, preferring to reference Palestine as “territories.” Nor did it acknowledge the difficulty of creating two separate states given Israel’s long indifference to international law and human rights and its unrelenting expansion of settlements in the UN recognized state of Palestine, which remains under occupation 48 years after the 1967 war. Despite discharge or rejection of any resolutions calling for any form of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, the Church’s 2005 policy of corporate engagement remains intact since the Convention took no vote to remove it. This policy states in part “That Executive Council directs the Social Responsibility in Investments committee (now Corporate Social Responsibility) to engage in dialogue with and, where appropriate, to file shareholder resolutions with companies which operate in the Occupied Territories, in which the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society (DFMS) owns shares and whose products or services contribute to violence against either side, or contribute to the infrastructure that supports and sustains the Occupation, such as settlements and their bypass roads, the security barrier where it is built on Palestinian land, and demolition of Palestinian homes”. No action on this section of the policy has been taken in the past three years. The policy also supports investment in the Palestinian economy and has made a loan of $500,000 to the Bank of Palestine.
The request for $675,000 to carry out B013 does not appear to have been added to the budget under new work.
B013 Peacemaking Through Political Action
Topic: International Relations
Committee: 07 – Social Justice and International Policy
Proposer: The Rt. Rev. W. Nicholas Knisely
Resolved, the House of Deputies concurring, That The 78th General Convention reaffirm the vocation of the Church as an agent of reconciliation and restorative justice, and recognize that meaningful reconciliation can help to engender sustainable, long-lasting peace and that such reconciliation must incorporate both political action and locally driven grassroots efforts; and be it further
Resolved, That the General Convention, lamenting the diplomatic and political stalemate following recent elections in Israel, reaffirm this Church’s commitment to a just and peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through a negotiated settlement between the parties resulting in two states for two peoples: a secure and universally recognized Israel living alongside a secure and viable state for the Palestinian people; and be it further
Resolved, That The Episcopal Church commend the United States government for its efforts during the past triennium to broker negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, but express grave sorrow at the collapse of those negotiations in 2014 and the subsequent deterioration of political relations between the parties; and be it further
Resolved, That The Episcopal Church, recognizing that simple calls for the parties to return to the negotiating table are no longer sufficient to address the urgency of the situation, challenge the United States government, in coordination with global partners , to develop and offer a new, comprehensive, and time-bound framework to the government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority for the conclusive negotiation of a two-state peace agreement and the resolution of all final-status issues; and be it further
Resolved, That the General Convention urge all national governments represented in The Episcopal Church to invest substantial diplomatic capital in support of such a framework; and be it further
Resolved, That the General Convention urge the Presiding Bishop and the staff of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society to continue its exemplary work to enhance understanding, build political consensus, and organize grassroots support within The Episcopal Church for this political action; and be it further
Resolved, That Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society: (1) convene a collaborative group of experts and interfaith partners to collect a wide range of resources designed to inform and enliven a conversation among those holding differing convictions; (2) encourage early travel of the 27th Presiding Bishop to the Holy Land, in the spirit of interfaith fellowship[SD1] , to establish and build relationships with leaders of the communities of the Children of Abraham working for peace, justice, and reconciliation; and (3) continue its commendable efforts to assist Episcopalians to learn about and understand the traumas, hurt, suffering, fears, pain, aspirations, and hopes that shape the daily lives of all living in Israel and the Palestinian Territories; and be it further
Resolved, That the General Convention commend the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society’s investment of $500,000 during the last triennium in the infrastructure of the Palestinian economy as a tangible step toward building a viable Palestinian state and strengthening the economic well-being of Palestinian communities; and to urge Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society to expand this loan investment at least twofold in the next triennium; and be it further
Resolved, That the General Convention encourage The Episcopal Church to (1) embrace the principles of restorative justice in its advocacy and engagement for the just resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; and (2) engage and support the voices of both Israelis and Palestinians—especially those who are themselves victims of violence and injustice—who seek peace with justice through nonviolent and restorative responses to the conflict; and be it further
Resolved, That the General Convention support existing efforts toward restorative justice by urging the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society to identify and find creative ways to commend, support, and elevate the work of local peace-building and economic development initiatives, including those of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem and the Middle East and grassroots organizations jointly led by Israelis and Palestinians; and be it further
Resolved, That the General Convention request the Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance to consider a budget allocation of $675,000 for the implementation of this resolution to be used as follows: (1) a total of $60,000 over the course of the triennium to each of five existing local, grassroots peace-building initiatives jointly led by Israelis and Palestinians to support and expand their work; (2) $300,000 to the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem and the Middle East to support and expand its sustainable peace-building efforts in Israel and the Palestinian Territories through its ministries of health care and education; and (3) $75,000 to cover other costs associated with the implementation of this resolution.
C018 Pursue Justice, Peace and Security in the Holy Land
Topic: International Relations
Committee: 07 – Social Justice and International Policy
Proposer: Diocese of Washington
Resolved, the House of Deputies concurring, That the 78th General Convention of the Episcopal Church express its solidarity with and support for Christians in Israel and the Occupied Territories; and be it further
Resolved, That the Convention affirm the work of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem in healing, education, and pastoral care; and be it further
Resolved, That the Convention affirm the work of Christians engaged in relationship building, interfaith dialogue, non-violence training, and advocacy for the rights of Palestinians; and be it further
Resolved, That the Convention urge Episcopalians to demonstrate our solidarity by making pilgrimage to Israel and the Occupied Territories and learning from our fellow Christians in the region; and be it further
Resolved, That the Convention request the Program, Budget and Finance Committee consider allocating $15,000 during the next triennium for the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society to produce a video and study guide based on the experiences and learnings of pilgrims to the region and Christians living in the region, to be distributed to the Episcopal Church.
From Executive Council:
1991 – endorses the following call of the recent Anglican Primates meeting in Newcastle, Northern Ireland:”We call upon the United Nations to assume the administration of the West Bank and Gaza Strip from the State of Israel”
2002 – condemns the violence of suicide bombers and the violence of the Occupation and pleads with both sides to pursue all avenues of negotiation based on United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338; reiterates the Church’s position in support of a just peace that guarantees Israel’s security and Palestinian aspirations for a viable sovereign state with Jerusalem as the shared capital of both Israel and Palestine; recognizes that the Israeli policy of building settlements in the Occupied Territories thwarts the peace process and thus Council restates the Church’s position that all settlement activity should cease immediately
2006 – declares that the following positions constitute policies of The Episcopal Church: an end to the isolation of East Jerusalem and Bethlehem from the West Bank created by the continued construction of Israeli settlements, settler roads and the barrier; removal of the barrier by Israel where it violates Palestinian territory and termination of the policy and practice of terrorism by any constituency of the Palestinian Authority; assurance of human rights for Palestinians and Israelis; support for the return of sovereign control of Gaza’s airspace and coastline and borders to the Palestinian people and mutual respect for borders and urge Hamas to recognize the State of Israel, renounce violence, and accept past peace agreements and assurance that no U.S. tax dollars are used, directly or indirectly, to finance the building of the barrier and bypass roads that support the settlements; the end of all violence and the rejection of terrorism and their crippling impact on Israeli and Palestinian societies; the withdrawal by Israel from all occupied Palestinian territories as established in 1967 West Bank
2010 – calls upon the President of the United States and the Congress to press the State of Israel to end the blockade of the Gaza Strip, thereby permitting free and uninhibited access for all humanitarian assistance, a return to normalized trade, and the lifting of the ban on building and educational materials
2011 – affirms that Palestinian political unity is necessary for forming a government capable of representing the West Bank and Gaza Strip together, but notes that the inclusion of Hamas in any governing entity as suggested by the reconciliation agreement announced by Palestinian leaders in April, must be accompanied by concrete reaffirmations by the Palestinian Authority of its unequivocal renunciation of all forms of violence and its recognition of the State of Israel and its right to exist; recognizes that Palestinian efforts for recognition of statehood by the United Nations are a response to the stalled nature of the negotiations process.
2013 February: affirms the prophetic witness of the 77th General Convention in calling for a just peace for Israelis and Palestinians through Resolution B019, which, building upon 30 years of resolutions, declares “this Church’s support for a negotiated two-state solution in which a secure and universally recognized State of Israel lives alongside a free, viable, and secure state for the Palestinian people, with a shared Jerusalem as the capital of both,” and establishes strategies for the pursuit of that witness; affirms that it is the policy of this Church, derived through General Convention Resolutions A010 (2006), A103 (1994), A149 (1991), and D008 (1991), and the Resolve of Council “Guiding Principles for Governmental Legislation” (February 1995) that all foreign aid given abroad by the United States government – including aid to Israel and the Palestinians, and to all others in the region and elsewhere – should be comprehensively and transparently accounted to the American people and held to the same standards of compliance with all applicable laws, as advocated during the last two triennia through more than a dozen letters to the Congress sent by the Presiding Bishop and other bishops of this Church and the Office of Government Relations, and embodied in the “Religious Statement on Foreign Assistance Reform,” dated February 2, 2009, adopted by an interreligious coalition co-chaired by the Episcopal Church and repeatedly communicated to the President and the Congress in the intervening years; and further affirms that this policy should be applied through such advocacy toward its universal adherence rather than targeted for selective application to some recipients and not others; and that, in order to assure the effective and thorough implementation of the policies adopted by the 77th General Convention through Resolution B019 and referred to multiple interim bodies, a B019 coordinating committee shall be appointed by March 15, 2013 and shall comprise the following individuals:
- (1) The Presiding Bishop and President of the House of Deputies, (or a designee of each), who shall appoint a convener from among the coordinating committee members; (2)the Chair of the Executive Council Joint Standing Committee on Advocacy and Networking for Mission, or one substitute as may be designated by the Committee Chair, (3)The Chair of the Standing Commission on Anglican and International Peace with Justice Concerns, or one substitute as may be designated by the Commission Chair, (4)The Chair of the Standing Commission on Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations, or one substitute as may be designated by the Commission Chair,(5)One member of the House of Bishops’ Theology Committee, or a designee, as appointed by the Presiding Bishop, (6)Such staff of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society as may be designated by the Presiding Bishop; …and that this coordinating committee shall provide a report on its activities to the Executive Council to be included as part of Council’s triennial Blue Book report for the 78th General Convention.
2014 – A&N 035 Response to Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, including Gaza War (24-27 October meeting of Executive Council)
Resolved, That the Executive Council of The Episcopal Church, meeting in Linthicum Heights, Maryland, October 24-27, 2014, expresses its grief at the loss of life and livelihood suffered by both Palestinians and Israelis as a result of the 2014 Gaza War, and commend the efforts of United States Secretary of State John Kerry and the international-donor community in securing substantial funding for the rebuilding of Gaza; and be it further
Resolved, That the Executive Council calls upon all parties to the Conflict, and their international partners, to work toward conditions in the Gaza Strip that will make peaceful and sustainable rebuilding possible; and be it further
Resolved, That the Executive Council reaffirms this Church’s longstanding commitment to positive investment in the Palestinian Territories as indispensable for the creation of the economic infrastructure of a future Palestinian state, and request that the Economic Justice Loan Committee consider supplementing its 2013 investment in the Palestinian Territories with new economic investments designed to benefit the Palestinian people and to challenge dioceses to make similar investments; and be it further
Resolved, That the Executive Council reaffirms The Episcopal Church’s understanding that the only pathway to a just and lasting peace is a two-state solution, negotiated by Israelis and Palestinians, in which a universally recognized secure Israel, the homeland of the Jewish people, exists alongside a sovereign, viable, and universally recognized secure state for the Palestinian people, with Jerusalem as the capital of both states; and be it further
Resolved, That the Executive Council urges both parties to refrain from all unilateral actions that complicate the pathway toward negotiations, including continued Israeli settlement building in the Palestinian territories; the employment of violence of any sort, particularly violence deliberately targeted at innocent civilians; and the pursuit of legal, political, or military strategies that exacerbate differences between the parties that must be resolved through negotiation; and be it further
Resolved, That the Executive Council commends the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem and its bishop for their courageous and unremitting witness to peace for all Israelis and Palestinians and their work to provide for human need within their jurisdiction, including in the Gaza Strip; and urge the support of all Episcopalians for those efforts; and be it further
Resolved, That the Executive Council urges all Episcopalians to stand in solidarity with Israelis and Palestinians working toward peace in the land called holy by all the children of Abraham.
On Economic Pressure:
1994 – filed shareholder resolution with Motorola “to establish a policy to prohibit the sale of products or services to any settlement, including persons residing in those settlements, located in the Occupied Territories”
2004 instruct the Treasurer to vote in favor of all resolutions asking companies to report on whether sales to the Israel Defense Forces are consistent with their codes of conduct
2005 -engage in dialogue with and, where appropriate, to file shareholder resolutions with companies which operate in the Occupied Territories … and whose products or services contribute to violence against either side, or contribute to the infrastructure that supports and sustains the Occupation, such as settlements and their bypass roads, the security barrier where it is built on Palestinian land, and demolition of Palestinian homes; encourage through dialogue and shareholder resolutions, as appropriate, those companies, in which DFMS holds shares, … to support economic development in the West Bank and Gaza Strip; recommends that bodies of the Episcopal Church with investment assets join with other religious organizations, denominations and institutions in investing in the economic infrastructure of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
2013 February Executive Council: affirms and celebrates this month’s recommendation of the Executive Council Economic Justice Loan Committee to invest $500,000 in the Bank of Palestine, affirms that it is the policy of this Church to engage in the constructive corporate engagement policies toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict adopted by the Executive Council in October 2005 and implemented by the Executive Council Committee on Corporate Social Responsibility in the intervening years; and further affirms that this Church does not support boycott, divestment, and economic sanctions against the state of Israel nor any application of the Church’s corporate engagement policies toward such ends.