Methodist Church to boycott goods from illegal Israeli settlements

The Methodist Church has today voted to boycott all productsfrom Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories, and toencourage Methodists across Britain to do the same.

The decision is a response to a call from a group of PalestinianChristians, a growing number of Jewish organisations, both insideIsrael and worldwide, and the World Council of Churches. A majorityof governments recognise the Israeli occupation of Palestinianterritories as illegitimate under international law.

Christine Elliott, Secretary for External Relationships, said,"This decision has not been taken lightly, but after months ofresearch, careful consideration and finally, today's debate at theConference. The goal of the boycott is to put an end to theexisting injustice. It reflects the challenge that settlementspresent to a lasting peace in the region.

"We are passionate about dialogue across communities and withpeople of all faiths. We remain deeply committed to ourrelationships with our brothers and sisters of other faiths, and welook to engage in active listening so that we act as agents of hopetogether."

In December, Defra introduced new advice on labelling, recommendingthat packaging of products imported from the West Bank shoulddistinguish between Palestinian areas and Israelisettlements.

The Conference also adopted a statement calling for a full armsembargo against all sides in the conflict. "This conflict isfurther fuelled by partisan support by other countries. Violencefrom all parties in this conflict must be denounced, and a justpeace sought for all peoples living in the region," saidChristine.

The move to boycott is just one among a number of measures agreedby the Conference, which also include a commitment to regular andinformed prayer for the needs of those in region. Methodists acrossGreat Britain are also encouraged to visit the region, write totheir MPs and engage in respectful dialogue with Jews and Muslimson this issue.