Methodist Conference sets new rules for ethical investment in Israel and Palestine

The Methodist Conference has voted for the Church to draw upguidelines on how to engage with corporations or activities thatsupport illegal Israeli activity in the West Bank or Gaza stripcompanies, with disinvestments as the ultimate sanction.

Conference called on the Israeli Government to halt any furthersettlement or construction in the West Bank and to immediatelydemolish the security barrier. It also called on Hamas and otherPalestinian groups to recognise the State of Israel and to seekpeaceful means to end of the occupation.

The Joint Advisory Committee on the Ethics of Investment (JACEI)will develop the criteria that should guide the Church's investmentin this area. The Central Finance board, an independent body thathandles the Methodist Church's investments, always seeksconstructive engagement with companies in order to further ethicalcorporate behaviour, but it retains the option of disinvestment ifit cannot achieve progress. JACEI advises the CFB on ethicalmatters.

The last year JACEI has reached decisions on several prominentcompanies, including Shell, Reed Elsevier and Nestle. Its policystatement on Nestle said that there were no compelling reasons toto impose an exclusion policy on Nestle at this time. To date, CFBhas not taken any shares in Nestle, although it has met with thecompany's chief executive to discuss a variety of concerns.