Anglicans pass hotly debated Palestine – Israel resolution

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The new resolution commits Anglicans to working with ecumenical partners to promote peace and justice in Israel and Palestine. Illustration: Irbena
The new resolution commits Anglicans to working with ecumenical partners to promote peace and justice in Israel and Palestine. Illustration: Irbena

After a long and passionate debate, the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada meeting in Ottawa has passed a resolution on the issue of peace and justice in Palestine and Israel.

The resolution reiterates the established positions of the church, which “recognize the legitimate aspirations, rights and needs of both Israelis and Palestinians to live in peace with dignity within sovereign and secure borders; condemns the use of all kinds of violence, especially against civilians; calls for an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian Territories (West Bank and Gaza); and calls upon Israel, as an occupying power, to recognize the Fourth Geneva Convention, which forbids the transfer and settlement of its citizen in occupied territories. ”

However, it also calls on Canadian Anglicans to take some new steps, including educating themselves more deeply.

The resolution commits the church to act with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada and other ecumenical partners to:

  • enable deeper church-wide awareness of and response to the call of the Kairos Palestine document: A Moment of Truth
  • educate the church about the impact of illegal settlements on the lives of both Palestinians and Israelis; about imported products identified as produced in or related to the illegal settlements and misleadingly labelled as produced in Israel; about the complexities of economic advocacy measures
  • explore and challenge theologies and beliefs, such as Christian Zionism, that support the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories
  • explore and challenge theories and beliefs that deny the right of Israel to exist
  • and strengthen relationships with Canadian Jews and Muslims, to resolutely oppose anti-Semitism, anti-Arab sentiments and Islamophobia.

Debate ranged among members, from some who said the resolution went too far and demonstrated left-wing or anti-Israel bias, to those who said it did not go far enough in addressing the oppression of Palestinians suffering under an apartheid system.

There was also a concern that this resolution followed in the footsteps of a United Church of Canada resolution that called for a boycott of goods produced in the occupied territories that are labelled as Israeli products. Bishop Michael Ingham of the diocese of New Westminster responded, saying this resolution “calls for nothing approaching that. It calls us to learn more about these products.”

The motion passed with the support of 73 per cent of the almost 300 members.

Another resolution was also passed that invites Anglicans to observe Jerusalem Sunday on the seventh Sunday after Easter. The day will be used to give special attention to the work of the Anglican church in the Holy Land and to take up a special offering as a gift to the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem.

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Leigh Anne Williams
Leigh Anne Williams joined the Anglican Journal in 2008 as a part-time staff writer. She also works as the Canadian correspondent for Publishers Weekly, a New York-based trade magazine for the book publishing. Prior to this, Williams worked as a reporter for the Canadian bureau of TIME Magazine, news editor of Quill & Quire, and a copy editor at The Halifax Herald, The Globe and Mail and The Bay Street Bull.

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