United Church of Canada to Consider Israel Boycott

Added to this is the fact that virtually no responsibilities are placed on the Palestinians to participate in or contribute to the peace process (other than a faint call for all parties to reject violence), and the implication that Israel’s existence stems from the Holocaust (rather than nearly one hundred years of legal recognition rooted in the Balfour Declaration).

The conclusion? The report sums up by stating that the United Church should give “high priority” to a Church-wide boycott of products from Israeli settlements. This is premised on the view that Israel’s presence in the West Bank is “the primary contributor to the injustice that underlies the violence of the region.”

For their part, Hamas and Hezbollah don’t seem to be decisive factors: the words simply do not appear in the report. Also omitted is Israel’s painful 2005 removal of some 8,500 settlers from Gaza, as well as the evacuation of approximately 3,000 settlers from the Sinai in 1982 (referred to by the report in passing, but with no mention of settlements).

It’s telling that these points didn’t make it into a report that mentions the term “settlements” 54 times.

These are not trivial points. Any report which considers the West Bank occupation the crux of regional violence and calls for a boycott of settlements cannot omit Israel’s record of withdrawing settlements for peace and remain a credible document. Moreover, doing so is to reject the essential lesson of history to be found in the two major withdrawals of settlements. While the Sinai withdrawal (the result of a signed treaty with Egypt) has led to peace, the Gaza withdrawal (with no signed agreement) has since seen thousands of missiles landing on southern Israel. Are the settlements an issue that needs to be addressed in a negotiated peace deal? Absolutely. But they are not the source of the conflict: when they are removed without a peace agreement in place, the conflict continues.