Ottawa – The United Church of Canada, the country’s largest Protestant denomination, has approved a recommendation to boycott products produced in Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory.
The intent is to bring pressure to bear on the government of Israel to stop expansion of the settlements and end the occupation.
The church’s General Council, its senior decision-making body, received the recommendation last week at its meeting in Ottawa. More than 350 elected delegates met for the eight-day event that concluded August 18.
The recommendations were approved on August 15 and the policy paper was approved on August 17.
The boycott proposal is part of a package of measures presented by a task group charged to advise the church on how to contribute to peace initiatives between Israel and the Palestinians.
The report prepared by the Working Group on Israel-Palestine Policy says that the occupation is “the primary contributor to the injustice that underlies the violence of the region” and calls settlements “a serious obstacle” to peace.
During debate, delegates heard from Victor Goldbloom of the Canadian Christian Jewish Consultation. Goldbloom expressed appreciation for the church’s work on Christian-Jewish dialogue and its commitment to seeking a peaceful solution to conflict in the Middle East.
“I agree with the objectives but not the means,” Goldbloom told the Council.
Ramzi Zananiri of the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC) in speaking to the Council provided information about the increasing expansion of Israeli settlements.
“Time is running out. Land is disappearing so quickly that soon it will not be possible to establish a viable Palestinian state,” Zananiri said.