Last summer, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. rejected the divestment strategy aimed at Israel and advocated by the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) movement. In its place, and in the spirit of Jesus’ parable of the pounds, the PCUSA embraced a strategy of positive investment. The denomination pledged to find resources to help develop the economic potential of the Palestinian people on the West Bank. The decision is beginning to look prophetic as the United States and other countries adopt the same approach.
A few days ago, as he left Israel/Palestine, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry lifted up the investment strategy as an effective way to get both the Israelis and Palestinians to engage in peace talks. On Tuesday, April 9th, The Wall Street Journal reported, “The Obama Administration is mapping out an economic strategy in the Palestinian areas of the West Bank, using both U.S. government funds and private-sector involvement in a bid to restart direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. The effort will involve the U.S. Export-Import Bank, Overseas Private Investment Corporation and U.S. Agency for International Development, as well as American corporations, Secretary of State John Kerry said at the end of a three day visit to Israel. The Obama administration is betting that economic improvements will encourage Palestinians to view peace talks positively”.
The decision of the United States and others to intensify their investment in peacemaking strategies should provide an impetus for the PCUSA to speed up its process for investing tangible amounts of money in the economic development of the West Bank. While nothing concrete has emerged to date from denominational offices and committees in response to the 2012 GA action, individual Presbyterians, including members of Presbyterians for Middle East Peace, are working to secure funding for talented entrepreneurs on the West Bank.