The Methodist Church of Britain yesterday voted to boycott Israeli-produced goods and services from the “West Bank” because of Israel’s “illegal occupation of Palestinian lands.”
“A majority of governments recognize the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories as illegitimate under international law,” the church body said at its annual conference in Portsmouth.
The church body will now encourage Methodists across the UK to follow suit.
The motion stated that the boycott of goods “from illegal Israeli settlements” was in response to a call by the World Council of Churches – which advocates divestment from Israel – and by Palestinian civil society and “a growing number of Jewish organizations in Israel and worldwide.”
“The Methodist Conference notes the call of the World Council of Churches in 2009 for an international boycott of settlement produce and services and the support given for such a boycott by Christian leaders in Palestine in the Kairos document, Palestinian civil society and a growing number of Jewish organizations both inside Israel and worldwide and calls on the Methodist people to support and engage with this boycott of Israeli goods emanating from illegal settlements,” the church said.
In a statement released after Wednesday’s vote, the church body said the decision, which carried unanimously, had the goal of ending “the existing injustice.”
“This decision has not been taken lightly, but after months of research, careful consideration and finally, today’s debate at the conference,” said Christine Elliott, secretary for external relationships. “The goal of the boycott is to put an end to the existing injustice. It reflects the challenge that settlements present to a lasting peace in the region.”
I always have to laugh at these Christian groups who oppose Israel and claim Israel is illegally occupying palestinian land. Does this mean they believe that their hero JC was also illegally occupying palestinian land when he lived in places such as Bethlehem, Jerusalem and Jericho?
Updates (Israel time; most recent at top)
7:00PM: Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has addressed the nation on Gilad Shalit, as a response to the mounting pressure from the Shalit family to conduct a prisoner swap.
Netanyahu, who will talk with US President Barack Obama about the issue on Monday, gave the soldier’s family little reason for optimism, and explained why the decision is so complex.
“I look into the pained eyes of Shalit’s family and feel the pain with them,” he said. “I also look into the eyes of hundreds of families who have been hurt by terror and feel their pain. In the same breath, I think of all those whose loved ones will be murdered if Israel’s principles are breached and murderers are released. As prime minister, I must take all this considerations into account.”
“The call to pay any price is a natural cry from the hearts of his fathers, mothers, grandparents, brothers and sisters,” he continued.
“As a brother, as a father, as a son, I understand this cry from the depths of my heart. But before me I see, as does every Israeli prime minister, the security of all the State’s citizens. The State of Israel is willing to pay a heavy price for the release of Shalit, but it cannot say ‘at any price.’ This is the truth, and I am saying it now. We will continue to make every effort… to bring Gilad home quickly. But this will be done while maintaining the security of Israel’s citizens.”
“The people of Israel are united in their desire to bring Shalit home,” the prime minister confirmed. “There in nobody who has met the Shalit family who doesn’t think to himself, ‘Gilad could have been my son, or my brother, or my grandson.’ Therefore the family’s response is natural, and the desire to give them support is also natural.”
Netanyahu, who said he had agreed to a deal which would involve the release of 1,000 Palestinians, also spoke about the dangers of releasing prisoners.
“Israel has decided a number of times to release terrorists and murders in return for the release of Israelis,” he said. “The most famous case is the Jibril deal, in which 1,150 were released. Almost half went back to terror. They went back to murdering hundreds of Israelis and constituted the hard core of the second Intifada. And there were other cases, like the Tenenbaum deal, in which 400 were released, and murdered 26 Israelis since they were released in 2004.”
“The decision to release terrorists is a difficult and complex decision for any government,” Netanyahu continued. “Because of the complexity, as opposition leader I refused to criticize the Olmert government on this issue. The public pressure and demands should not be directed against the government, but against Hamas – a terror organization that does not even allow the Red Cross to visit Shalit.”
“In the deal presented by the German mediator, to which I agreed, there were 1,000 terrorists – that’s the price I am willing to face to bring Shalit home,” the prime minister added, but clarified that he would not agree to their return to the West Bank. “I stick to two principles – the terrorists must not return to Judea and Samaria, and no arch-terrorists will be released. I agreed to the mediator’s deal, but no response has yet been received from Hamas.”
4:24PM: CNN reports on IAF strikes on Gaza sites overnight. Note the scare quotes.
The Israeli air force hit a weapons manufacturing facility and “terror” sites in Gaza overnight, an Israel Defense Forces spokesman said Thursday.
This is CNN.
3:02PM: I know I have mocked the Jerusalem Post in the past for photo-caption combination screw-ups, but here they get it spot on.
1:18PM: More information has come to light on the secret meeting between Israeli Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.
Turkish media on Thursday provided further details of the secret meeting that led to a coalitional storm in Israel. Local newspapers detailed how the meeting, between Israeli Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was concealed. The NTV network reported that the two agreed to meet again in secret.
The meeting was held behind the back of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak were aware of the meeting and gave Ben-Eliezer their blessing.
Meanwhile, a Turkish official confirmed that the meeting was held in Brussels, and said it had taken place at Israel’s behest, in an attempt to overcome the crisis between the two countries.
“The meeting took place in Brussels yesterday at Israel’s behest,” the official told AFP, “We sent a letter to Israel expressing our expectations and these expectations were raised again in the meeting.”
A Turkish newspaper reported that the meeting, which was the first meeting between Israeli and Turkish officials since the raid on the Gaza-bound flotilla, was also kept a secret from local ministers.
According to Sabah newspaper, the meeting was held in a luxury hotel in Brussels, Belgium, and began at 12:30, local time. It lasted some two-and-a-half hours. The parties initially considered holding the meeting in Luxembourg, Zurich or Strasbourg.
The report said the hotel room was booked under a third party’s name in order to keep the meeting a secret. The two ministers reportedly discussed ways to restore ties between Israel and Turkey.
Turkish network NTV reported that the meeting was also kept secret from Minister for EU Affairs Egemen Bagis and Agriculture Minister Mehdi Eker, who were in Belgium with the foreign minister.
Hurriyet newspaper reported that the foundations for the meeting were laid during a meeting between Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s meeting with US President Barack Obama, on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Canada, which Davutoglu also attended.
According to the report, the Ben-Eliezer-Davutoglu meeting focused on the matter of the ships that are still in Israel. The Turkish foreign minister reportedly laid out the terms for returning the ships from Israel.
He secretly took off in his private jet from Ankara to Zurich.
The Turkish newspapers also reported on Lieberman’s anger at the secret meeting. On Wednesday, the foreign minister’s office called it “a violation of all normal procedures,” and said “it undermines the trust between the foreign minister and the prime minister. The foreign minister intends to clarify the incident.”
The meeting was mediated by an Israeli business man and the American ambassador in Ankara.
Meanwhile, Ha’aretz has picked up on the Obama connection, glossed over in the above report.
A senior Israeli official’s secret meeting with the Turkish foreign minister was apparently held due to pressure from the Obama administration.
9:32AM: According to The Wall Street Journal, Iran has equipped Syria with with a sophisticated radar system to help thwart a surprise Israeli strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities.
8:52AM: High-ranking Hamashole Mahmoud “The Wart” al-Zahar demonstrates why all those who support or otherwise enable Hamas (including the flotillards) support Israel’s destruction, and those who posit Israel should talk with Hamas (including Russia, Jimmy Carter and even Israelis like Shaul Mofaz) are off their meds.