The Methodist Church has today (Wednesday) voted to boycott all products from Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories and to encourage Methodists across Britain to do the same.
The decision is a response to a call from a group of Palestinian Christians, a growing number of Jewish organisations, both inside Israel and worldwide, and the World Council of Churches. A majority of governments recognise the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories as illegitimate under international law.
Christine Elliott, the Methodists' Secretary for External Relationships, said: “This decision has not been taken lightly, but after months of research, careful consideration and finally, today’s debate at the Conference. The goal of the boycott is to put an end to the existing injustice. It reflects the challenge that settlements present to a lasting peace in the region.
“We are passionate about dialogue across communities and with people of all faiths. We remain deeply committed to our relationships with our brothers and sisters of other faiths, and we look to engage in active listening so that we act as agents of hope together.”
In December, Defra introduced new advice on labelling, recommending that packaging of products imported from the West Bank should distinguish between Palestinian areas and Israeli settlements.
The Conference also adopted a statement calling for a full arms embargo against all sides in the conflict. “This conflict is further fuelled by partisan support by other countries. Violence from all parties in this conflict must be denounced, and a just peace sought for all peoples living in the region,” said Christine.
The move to boycott is just one among a number of measures agreed by the Conference, which also include a commitment to regular and informed prayer for the needs of those in the region. Methodists across Great Britain are also encouraged to visit the region, write to their MPs and engage in respectful dialogue with Jews and Muslims on this issue.