Episcopal Church speaks out on Palestinian Rights
Last week the Episcopal Church held its tri-annual General Convention in Austin, Texas. The Episcopal Church is a mainline Christian denomination with three million members in the United States and is the U.S.-based member church of the worldwide Anglican Communion.
Over ten days several resolutions regarding Palestinian rights were discussed in committees and passed by the Covention's Houses of Deputies and Bishops. Among the topics addressed in resolutions were affirming Jerusalem as an international city that must be kept available to all worshippers and that moving the US embassy to Jerusalem is an obstacle to peace; safeguarding the rights of Palestinian children, including certifying that no US military aid is used to detain and abuse Palestinian children by Israeli forces; and directing the Church to set criteria for developing a human rights investment screen.
“Debate on the resolutions was lively, eloquent, and serious. In the end, it appeared that the majority of deputies and bishops concurred that the longstanding military occupation of the West Bank, blockade of Gaza and annexation of East Jerusalem have resulted in a measure of deprivation, suffering, and violence that demands a stepped-up response,” wrote members of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship’s Palestine Israel Network after the convention.
Regarding Gaza, a resolution passed that urges the United States government to restore full funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for the benefit of Palestinian refugees, and lift the freeze on projects of USAID to benefit Palestinians. A second resolution passed urging an investigation into the use of lethal force against unarmed Palestinian civilians (most recently witnessed during the Great March of Return) and stressing the obligation of the United States to enforce the Leahy Amendment (which cuts off funding to military units who commit gross human rights violations) if instances of human rights violations are confirmed.