Arts, faith and justice charity, Greenbelt Festivals, is calling on its supporters to boycott produce from the Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory.
Greenbelt’s call for a boycott of settlement goods comes at the culmination of its three-year ‘Just Peace’ campaign – which highlighted the issues of injustice suffered by those living under the Israeli occupation.
Around 20,000 people attend the annual Greenbelt festival, held over the August bank holiday weekend.
Whilst the festival has been shunned by conservative evangelicals over the years - following its welcome for figures including human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell and gay Bishop Gene Robinson - many other more open evangelicals attend each year.
Evangelical and other Christian organisations have also entered into collaboration with the festival including Church Mission Society (CMS) SPCK, USPG, YMCA, ICC, Christian Aid and The Church Times.
At this year's festival, comedian and campaigner Mark Thomas was among the contributors with his new show Extreme Rambling, in which he tells the story of a walk he decided to go on, along the length of the separation wall between Israel and Palestine.
Festival director, Paul Northup, said: “Greenbelt calls for a boycott of produce from the illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory. And, while this settlement boycott statement marks the formal end of our three-year Just Peace campaign, we will continue in the struggle for a just peace in the region. ”
The call for a boycott arises from concerns expressed by many within Greenbelt's own festival-going constituency, as well as several of Greenbelt’s partners, and other agencies working in the region. A major partner, the Methodist Church, have already made a call for the boycott of settlement goods. Another, Christian Aid, meanwhile, while not calling for a boycott, is calling on the government to impose a UK ban on the import of settlement goods, due to the illegality of the Israeli settlements under international law."
Northup continued: “In the 1980s, Greenbelt joined people all over the world in championing the boycott of goods from South Africa as a form of protest against the unjust apartheid regime there. The truth and reconciliation that finally came to that country gives us hope now. Greenbelt is committed to standing with global civil society in joining with these new forms of boycott, in the hope that their combined actions may play a part in influencing the Israeli government and leading to a just settlement for all peoples in the region.”
A full copy of the statement along with further details of Greenbelt’s Just Peace campaign is available at http://www.greenbelt.org.uk/campaign.