Anglicans urge putting pressure on companies doing business with Israel
NOTTINGHAM, England (AP) - A council of the worldwide Anglican Communion urged its member churches to put pressure on companies linked to Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories, including possibly divesting money from such businesses.
The Anglican Consultative Council voted unanimously Friday for a resolution that suggested the 38 national churches examine their investments to make sure companies in which they have holdings don't support either the occupation or Palestinian violence against innocent Israelis.
Israel said it was troubled by the move, which it called "extremely one-sided."
The resolution praised the American Episcopal Church for promising to "take appropriate action where it finds that its corporate investments support the occupation of Palestinian lands or violence against innocent Israelis."
It said it "commends such a process to other (church) provinces having such investments, to be considered in line with their adopted ethical investment strategies."
The council "encourages investment strategies that support the infrastructure of a future Palestinian state," the resolution said.
Church spokesman James Rosenthal said the vote reflects the council's deep concern about the situation of Palestinian Christians living in the territories. Rosenthal said the council had no specific companies in mind.
Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, spiritual leader of the 77-million member Anglican communion, was present at the meeting and voted for the resolution.
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokeman Mark Regev said Israel was troubled by the resolution, "which is extremely one-sided and out of touch with the realities on the ground."
"This sort of resolution will not help Israelis or Palestinians or anyone who is interested in reconciliation and peace," he said.
Jewish groups were also outraged.
"Moves towards divestment represent a flawed and disastrous course," said Rabbi Barry Marcus, the spokesman on Israeli issues for Britain's Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks.
"They will do nothing to advance the twin causes of security for Israel and statehood for the Palestinians."
The council also welcomed a report on the conflict that criticized Israel's conduct and expressed sympathy for "the draconian conditions of the continuing occupation" in which many Palestinians live.
"Israel, with the complicity of the United States, seems determined to flaunt international law," the report said.
"It is the occupation in its many facets that foments the violence and fuels the conflict."
Marcus said the report "took a one-sided and subjective view of the situation and did not reflect the present reality."
The report also urged the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq and said they should be replaced with international troops led by the United Nations.
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