Methodist boycott of goods from illegal Israeli settlements
1. What has the Church decided to do?
On 30 June, 2010 the Methodist Conference (the governing body of
the Methodist Church in Britain) called for a greater engagement of
the Methodist people with those living in Israel and Palestine. The
Conference report Justice for Palestine and
Israel highlighted the impact
of occupation on Palestinian communities in Gaza and the West
2. Why do you describe Israeli settlements in the West Bank as
However the status of Israeli settlements is described we must
appreciate that a process of patient and careful dialogue will be
necessary to arrive at solutions that meet the aspirations of both
Israelis and Palestinians. The Methodist Church fully recognizes
the right of Israel to exist as an independent state within secure
borders. We affirm the UN resolution that the provisions of the 4th
Geneva Convention apply to the occupied Palestinian territories.
This includes the principle that the occupier should not transfer
parts of its own civilian population into the territories that it
occupies. The expansion of the settlements in the occupied
Palestinian territories and associated infrastructure pose a
serious challenge to International law. It has contributed to
making life intolerable for many in the West Bank and makes a
sustainable peace accord around a viable two-state solution more
difficult to achieve. In July 2004 every European government and
most other governments affirmed their support for the Advisory
Opinion of the International Court of Justice on the Separation
Barrier. The UK Government describes the settlements in the West
Bank as "illegal".
3. Why Israeli settlement goods? Why not boycott other
We are taking this particular action in response to requests
from Palestinian Christians and the World Council of Churches and a
growing number of Jewish organisations both inside Israel and
worldwide. It is in our tradition to challenge and draw attention
to situations that we believe are unjust, and the illegal Israeli
occupation of Palestinian territories continues to make a lasting
peace in the region more difficult to achieve.
4. What should Methodists do?
Firstly, we want to encourage Methodists to engage in regular
well-informed inter faith dialogue and also in prayer for the
region and all who live there. Seek out interfaith groups locally
to open dialogue for a greater understanding of the region.
Secondly, some may wish to write to their MPs, MEPs and
Government ministers to call for urgent help to be given to those
who are suffering as a result of the present situation in Israel
Methodists are also encouraged to visit the region for
themselves where possible, to meet with Palestinian Christians and
others and to share their experiences on their return.
Finally, check the labels of products you buy to see whether
they originate from Israeli settlements. These can include everyday
purchases such as herbs, dates, avocados and olive oil. In December
2009, Defra (the UK Government department responsible for policy
and regulations on the environment, food and rural affairs)
introduced new advice on labelling, recommending that packaging of
products imported from the West Bank should distinguish between
Palestinian areas and Israeli settlements. The Methodist Church has
written to major supermarkets to ask whether they are complying
with this guidance.
5. Why is the Church conducting research on Christian
As previously stated, the Methodist Conference has unequivocally
affirmed the right of Israel to exist as an independent state and
in peace. Members of the Jewish community use the word Zionism to
describe this belief.
However, some Christians have a theological belief that links
events in the Middle East to the Second Coming of Christ as
foretold in the New Testament. The phrase 'Christian Zionism' is
often used to describe this theological position. The decision to
ask the Church's Faith and Order Committee to do some further work
on Christian Zionism arises from a belief that this theological
position is not well enough understood by the Church. The schedule
and scope of this work has not yet been determined.
6. Do all the things said during the Conference debate
represent the Church's views?
Not necessarily. The section 7.4.1 which was adopted by the
Conference is an agreed position of the Methodist Church. The
report to the Conference and speeches made are there to stimulate
debate following which the Conference votes. The resolutions are
not binding on Methodist Church members but are there to give
guidance for informed action.