DETROIT — The General Assembly will be asked to choose between two clear-cut proposals on divestment — one that would require the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to pull its investments out of three companies, and one that forbids it to do that.
On Tuesday afternoon, the assembly’s Middle East Issues Committee sent forward a measure requiring the denomination to divest from three companies based on non-peaceful uses of their products and services by Israel against Palestinian civilians. The committee crafted that proposal by flipping the main provision of an overture from New Covenant Presbytery, which had originally forbidden divestment from those companies.
On Tuesday night, four members of the committee flipped that provision right back. Their minority report, which will go to the full GA along with the measure approved 45-20 by the full committee, instructs the Presbyterian Foundation and the Board of Pensions not to divest from Caterpillar, Inc., Hewlett-Packard, and Motorola Solutions. It also asks that the church’s Mission Responsibility Through Investment (MRTI) Committee “continue its conversations” — adding that Hewlett-Packard has expressed willingness to continue. The minority report calls for MRTI to “express this General Assembly’s profound objection” to some corporate practices in the Middle East.
MRTI has recommended phased divestment from all three companies — the same recommendation it made in 2012, when the last General Assembly narrowly defeated the Middle East Peacemaking Committee’s proposal to divest and opted instead for a minority report’s proposal to pursue “creative engagement” and positive investment in Israeli-occupied Palestine.
Both the majority and the minority reports to this year’s assembly affirm support for a two-state solution to conflict in Israel-Palestine, but the rationale section in the minority report rejects boycott, divestment and sanctions efforts aimed at Israel as “fundamentally unjust” and ineffective at advancing peace.
The minority report is signed by Earl A. Bland of the Presbytery of Charleston-Atlantic, Kenneth Macari of the Presbytery of Elizabeth, Frank Allen of the Presbytery of Central Florida and Robert Opie, Presbytery of Stockton.