The Church of England synod has passed a resolution affirming its support for “Israelis and Palestinians in all organisations working for justice and peace.”
The resolution was brought to the synod by private member John Dinnen and was subject to three votes. Twenty-one bishops backed the motion, three voted against, with 14 abstentions; clergy voted 89 in favour, 21 against, with 44 abstentions; while the lay members of Synod voted 91 in favour, 30 against, with 35 abstentions. An amendment from the bishop of Manchester, Nigel McCulloch, did not pass.
The synod was subject to lobbying from Jewish groups who did not want the motion to be passed, as they objected to support for the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel that was contained in the motion.
The Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) is a World Council of Churches (WCC) initiative. It was set up in 2002 in response to a call made by the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem, and Palestinian and Israeli non-government organisations. The programme’s mission is to accompany Palestinians and Israelis in their nonviolent actions and concerted advocacy efforts to end the occupation.
The role of participants in the programme includes:
- Monitoring and reporting violations of human rights and international humanitarian law
- Supporting acts of nonviolent resistance alongside local Palestinian and Israeli activists
- Offering protection through nonviolent presence
- Engaging in public policy advocacy
- Standing in solidarity with the churches and all those struggling against the occupation.
Quaker Peace & Social Witness (QPSW), part of the Religious Society of Friends in Britain, co-ordinates the EAPPI in Britain and Ireland, under the auspices of the World Council of Churches. Partner churches and church-related organisations include the Baptist Union of Great Britain, CAFOD, Christian Aid, Church of Scotland, Church Mission Society, Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, Iona Community, Methodist Church, Pax Christi UK, Scottish Episcopal Church, United Reformed Church and USPG.
The full text of the resolution reads: ‘That this Synod affirm its support for:
(a) The vital work of the World Council of Churches Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI), encouraging parishioners to volunteer for the programme and asking churches and synods to make use of the experience of returning participants;
(b) Mission and other aid agencies working amongst Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank and elsewhere in the region;
(c) Israelis and Palestinians in all organisations working for justice and peace in the area, such as the Parents Circle-Family Forum; and
(d) Palestinian Christians and organisations that work to ensure their continuing presence in the Holy Land.