There was a lively discussion at the Annual Meetings of the Union in Nant Gwrtheyrn on a proposal to boycott goods from Israel, in order to put pressure on the country to treat Palestinians fairly. The conference voted unanimously to support a boycott.
The Resolution was presented by the Revd Hywel Wyn Richards (pictured), on behalf of the Union’s Department of Christian Citizenship. Since winning the general election in March, he said, the attitude of the Israeli government towards the Palestinians has hardened, with its Prime Minister stating that he’ll never allow the establishment of two parallel states in Israel and Palestine. This increased tension between the two nations has shattered hopes of solving a situation which is endangering world peace.
Ten years ago the campaign “Boycott, Divestment and Sanction” (BDS) was launched by 171 organisations representing the Palestinians, to try to engender the kind of international pressure on Israel that was so effective in the fight against the apartheid regime in South Africa. The campaigns three goals are:
- An end to Israeli occupation of Palestinians lands and dismantle the wall, which has been built illegally according to the ruling of the International Court of Justice;
- Recognise the human rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel-Arabs is full;
- Respect, protect and promote the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and land in accordance with Decision 194 of the United Nations.
The campaign is gaining increasing support from countries, organisations, companies and churches worldwide.
The Resolution called on the Independents to declare support for the BDS movement, and for the Union, the churches and their members not to invest in Israeli companies or those working in Israel, nor buy goods produced in Israel and the occupied territories. While agreeing with the decision, the Revd Owain Llyr pointed out that some Israelis were campaigning in favour of the rights of Palestinians. The situation was not so black and white, he said. In response, the Revd Jeff Williams said that they are regarded as traitors by most Israelis and that an economic boycott is needed to put pressure on Israel to bring the great injustice against the Palestinians to an end.
In seconding the decision, Robat Powell added that some church denominations have already withdrawn their investments from Israel. Leading Christians like Archbishop Desmond Tutu support the campaign, he said.