Momentum builds for positive investment in Middle East peace

Presbyterians for Middle East Peace commends the Episcopal Church on its commitment to positive investment in Middle East peace. In a recent news article, the Episcopal Church announced investment in a certificate of deposit with the Bank of Palestine in the West Bank. The investment followed a conference hosted by the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation (HCEF) late last year.

In a news release that was prominently cited in the Palestinian media, HCEF President and CEO Sir Rateb Rabie, KCHS “expressed his appreciation of the decision undertaken by the Economic Justice Committee of the Episcopal Church to invest in the Bank of Palestine, calling this the first as well as a significant step on the road to replacing despair with hope within the Palestinian community. ‘I commend the Episcopal Church’s decision to invest in Palestine for all Palestinians.’”

N. Kurt Barnes, Treasurer and CFO of the Episcopal Church in the U.S. detailed his denomination’s strategy, “The Bank of Palestine: 1) has well-developed corporate-governance and risk-management structures based on best practices generally seen in North America; 2) makes nearly 20% of its $720 million loan portfolio available to micro and small businesses (SMEs) employing over 10,000 Palestinians; 3) has a green loans program, which encourages water wells, wastewater management and alternative energy sources in order to reduce reliance on often unstable Israeli-sourced energy; and 4) contributes 5% of its net profit each year to Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives.”

The Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. is in the early stages of developing a similar investment strategy in the West Bank, which was adopted as a goal at the 2012 Presbyterian General Assembly.  According to a recent Presbyterian News Service release, the denomination is looking at potential investments of up to $5 million.

While developing the Palestinian economy is an essential element in the peace process, just as important are efforts that promote social and economic normalization between Israelis and Palestinians. “Investment in peace” transcends the narrow definition of economic investment, and the faith community has a long and deep history of investment in peace though efforts that encourage reconciliation, dialogue, and mutual respect. Presbyterians for Middle East Peace is actively working to support our denomination as we advance the mandate of the 2012 General Assembly, and hope that all Presbyterians committed to a lasting peace in the Middle East will join this effort.