LOUISVILLE – The Justice Committee of the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board voted Feb. 6 to pass on to the 2014 General Assembly a controversial recommendation that the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) divest in three companies doing business in Israel-Palestine.
The denomination’s Mission Responsibility Through Investment (MRTI) committee is recommending that the 2014 General Assembly divest in three companies that MRTI has determined are engaged in non-peaceful pursuits in the region: Caterpillar, Hewlitt-Packard and Motorola Solutions. The Justice Committee’s recommendation will go to the full Presbyterian Mission Agency Board for its consideration later today.
Elizabeth Terry Dunning, chair of the MRTI committee, acknowledged during a presentation to the Justice Committee that continuing to recommend divestment has been a “difficult and painful process” for the PC(USA).
The 2012 General Assembly debated the issue fiercely, ultimately voting 331-331 not to divest, but to pursue “creative engagement” and positive investment in Israeli-occupied Palestine instead. Now MRTI is bringing another divestment recommendation, stating that it’s following the General Assembly’s directive that it use the corporate engagement process to make sure the PC(USA) invests only in companies engaged in peaceful pursuits in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.
MRTI writes in its report that it has sought dialogue with Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions and Hewlett-Packard for years and has not succeeded in convincing the firms to change their practices. “Every one of these dialogues has been deeply disappointing,” Dunning told the Justice Committee.
MRTI states in its report that the Israeli Defense Forces have used Caterpillar-made equipment to destroy Palestinian homes, tear down olive trees and build a separation barrier keeping Palestinians from entering Israeli-occupied territory. MRTI says the Israeli Defense Forces have used Hewlett-Packard technology in a naval blockade of Gaza and Motorola Solutions technology to conduct surveillance around Palestinian communities.