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    The Upper New York Conference of The United Methodist Church

    news article

    United Methodist General Conference calls on Israel to end unjust practices toward Palestinians

    May 23, 2016 / By Chris Hazou of Institute for Middle East Understanding

    Despite fierce opposition, which included calls to delegates from
    Israeli ambassadors and consulates, the United Methodist General
    Conference passed strong measures calling for an end to Israel’s
    unjust practices toward Palestinians.

    One of these measures, Resolution 60206, calls on Israel to correct
    the unequal distribution of water in the West Bank, where illegal
    Israeli settlers receive four times as much water as the indigenous
    Palestinians. It also demands that Israel recognize existing titles to
    land owned by Palestinians within the West Bank.

    Another measure passed by the conference, Resolution 60843, calls for
    accountability from the Israeli government for the destruction of land
    and life. It urges US officials to contact the Israeli government to
    halt the expansion of illegal settlements and confiscation of
    Palestinian land.

    A third measure, Resolution 60868, calls for a church-wide Task Force
    led by key agencies to review and research actions that respond to the
    requests by church missionaries and Palestinian Christians. All United
    Methodist missionaries who have served in the Holy Land and thousands
    of Palestinian Christians have asked the church to cut its financial
    ties to the occupation.

    Resolution 60206 reflected concern that Israeli settlers have access
    to four times as much water as Palestinians, though the major aquifer
    is located beneath Palestinian land. This allocation of water
    according to ethnicity is a violation of United Methodist principles
    and international law. Throughout the West Bank, Palestinian land is
    being surrounded and confiscated for Israeli settlements, which the
    church opposes. Orchards and homes are being destroyed.

    Resolution 60843 focused on the Palestinian village of Wadi Foquin,
    where the UMC has a partnership with the village. Church members
    traveling to Wadi Foquin have seen the human rights abuses villagers
    suffer, including raw sewage running from the large illegal settlement
    of Beitar Illit onto the village farmland below it. In 2014, the
    Israeli government declared over 1,000 acres of private land belonging
    to Wadi Foquin and neighboring Palestinian villages to be “state
    land,” in violation of international law. In June 2015, the Israeli
    army accompanied bulldozers that destroyed 1300 fruit trees belonging
    to farmers in the village. The Israeli government also issued a stop
    work order for construction of a soccer field funded by United
    Methodist donations through the church’s Board of Global Ministries.

    The task force created by Resolution 60868 was established in
    recognition of the growing movement within the church working for
    Palestinian human rights. The rationale included in that measure
    referenced Resolution 6111 from the last General Conference in 2012
    that called on all nations to ban the import of goods and services
    coming from illegal settlements. In addition to the boycott action,
    the church’s pension board excluded five Israeli banks from investment
    this past December, divesting from two of the banks and one Israeli
    construction company.

    Rev. Michael Yoshii, Co-chair of the advocacy group United Methodist
    Kairos Response (UMKR), said, “We were humbled by the widespread
    support for Palestinians, especially among indigenous people and
    ethnic caucuses within the church. Bishop John Yambasu of Sierra Leone
    delivered a powerful sermon during the conference calling for justice
    for the Palestinian people.”

    A UMKR event during the conference featured three Bishops, including
    the President of the United Methodist Council of Bishops, who called
    for the use of decisive action by the church to cut its ties to the
    occupation. Japanese Americans, Filipino Lumad natives, Africans and
    the head of the Native American International Caucus were among those
    highlighting the parallels between the Palestinian plight today and
    the ethnic cleansing of other indigenous peoples.

    Rev. Yoshii also noted the strong interfaith support for UMKR and its
    efforts in Portland, saying, “We are grateful for the chance to work
    with such dedicated people in this continued quest for justice as we
    seek to answer the Palestinians’ call for freedom.”

    United Methodist Kairos Response is a global grassroots group within
    the United Methodist Church seeking to respond to the urgent call of
    Palestinian Christians for actions that can end the Israeli occupation
    of their land. For more information, visit

    TAGGED / Connectional Ministries

    With more than 144,000 members, the Upper New York Annual (Regional) Conference of The United Methodist Church comprises 865 local churches and 91 new faith communities in 12 districts, covering 48,000 square miles in 49 of the 62 counties in New York state. Our mission is to “live the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to be God’s love with our neighbors in all places."