June 25, 2016 - During its 222nd biennial General Assembly, which took place in Portland, Oregon this week, the Presbyterian Church (USA) continued its strong support for Palestinian rights with the passage of a series of overtures. An overture calling on real estate company RE/MAX to stop selling properties in Israeli settlements built on occupied Palestinian land in violation of international law and official US policy passed without opposition. In addition, the General Assembly overwhelmingly approved the use of boycotts and other nonviolent measures in support of oppressed peoples throughout the world. These actions follow the historic vote of the General Assembly in 2014 to divest from companies that profit from and sustain Israel's nearly 50-year-old military occupation of Palestinian lands, as well as the endorsement of a boycott of goods made in settlements.
Just prior to the Assembly, the CEO and co-founder of RE/MAX, Dave Liniger, announced in a letter sent to the overture advocates of the Presbytery of the Redwoods that the company has "recently taken action to ensure that RE/MAX, LLC will no longer receive any income from the sale of Jewish settlement properties in the West Bank."
"We're pleased that RE/MAX is acknowledging that its operations in the occupied territories are problematic from a legal and moral point of view, but we're waiting to see what this means in practical terms," said Marita A. Mayer, the overture advocate. "RE/MAX must follow up this statement with concrete action to fully end its complicity in Israel's occupation and theft of Palestinian land."
In addition to the RE/MAX overture, the plenary of the General Assembly supported by over 70% a continuing study of the global grassroots BDS (Boycott, Divest and Sanctions) movement for Palestinian rights and freedom. Rejecting attempts to categorically reject BDS and choosing instead to engage in prayerful study, the General Assembly recognized the historic commitment of the Presbyterian Church (USA) to nonviolent strategies for social change.
The plenary also approved a report submitted by the church’s Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy (ACSWP) supporting measures that revoke tax deductions and 501(c) 3 status to organizations that promote and finance illegal Israeli settlements, encouraging Congress to investigate the use of US-made equipment in Israeli human rights violations, and supporting the enforcement of laws requiring the correct labeling of settlement products.
The Israel-Palestine Mission Network (IPMN) of the Presbyterian Church (USA) welcomes the advances made at this year's General Assembly towards supporting a just and lasting peace in Israel and Palestine, and looks forward to continuing our work towards that end moving forward.