The Middle East Overtures and Proposals for the 221st General Assembly all address Israel-Palestine issues and focus on one question: will the GA stay the long-established course with a commitment to grassroots peacemaking, reconciliation, and partnering with Palestinians and Israelis of good will, or, will the GA embrace the course of divestment and the radical, polarizing agenda of the international Boycott, Divest, and Sanction (BDS) movement? The international BDS movement’s stated goal is to create one, non-Jewish state replacing Israel and Palestine — a position totally at odds with the PCUSA’s longtime commitment to a two state solution.
Item 04-04 (Overture 22)
PFMEP recommends that Overture 22 be approved. Overture 22 continues the PCUSA’s policies of recognizing the legitimate rights of both Israelis and Palestinians. It calls upon the GA to make a firm and continuing commitment to peacemaking, reconciliation, and justice for both parties to the conflict.
Item 04-01 (Overture 13), Item 04-03 (Overture 17)
PFMEP recommends that these two overtures be consolidated and addressed together. We recommend that both be disapproved. These overtures, consistent with the agenda of the international BDS movement, ask the GA to make a series of accusations targeting Israel and totally ignore any Palestinian responsibility for the conflict. They are based on information that is misleading, inaccurate, and in some instances, fabricated. The sole purpose of these accusations is to promote hostility toward Israel. They do not advance the cause of peace and instead create more distrust and polarization in a volatile environment. (Go to the article “The accusations of Overture 17” on the PFMEP homepage for specifics on some of the accusations made)
With respect to the request from ACSWP to prepare a “report,” ACSWP is supportive of the BDS movement and the report will serve no useful purpose. The denomination prepared a report several years ago which led to no progress and further polarization within the denomination. We recommend disapproval of the request.
Item 04-02 (Overture14), Item 04-05 (Overture 30), Item 04-06 (Overture 59), Item 04-07 (Overture61) and Item 04-08
PFMEP recommends that these overtures be consolidated and addressed together. We recommend that all be disapproved. These overtures advocate Israel-targeted divestment. Divestment should be rejected for three reasons. First, it claims the purpose of divestment is to “end the occupation,” but divestment advocates do not recognize the legitimate right of Israel to protect its people from violence. Proposals that fail to recognize the rights of both peoples offer no real solution or contribution to the peace process. The occupation can only be ended when the conflict is ended and both parties are committed to peaceful coexistence and reconciliation.
Second, divestment is a core initiative of the BDS movement and will define the PC(USA) as a BDS supporter. BDS is not a peace movement and BDS leadership publicly oppose grassroots peace initiatives between ordinary Palestinians and Israelis with a stance they call “anti-normalization.” BDS offers no real plan for peace and instead incites hostility with an array of inflammatory and inaccurate accusations that simplify a complex conflict for which both Palestinians and Israelis bear responsibility.
Third, as was demonstrated at the last GA, Caterpillar and HP products are widely used by the Palestinian Authority to govern and build their economy. Why punish these companies when their products are used by both sides in the conflict?
PFMEP supports human rights and fundamental freedoms for all people in Israel, Palestine and the rest of the Middle East. We believe that all governments in the region should be scrutinized and compared in terms of democratic rights, freedom of speech, women’s rights, religious freedom and the protection of minorities.