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WMD studying feasibility of investing in Palestinian economic development

The Worldwide Ministries Division (WMD) Committee has taken note of the work of three teams studying ways of attracting investment into the Palestinian territories to boost economic recovery there.

3 work groups focus on tourism, housing, international marketing

The Worldwide Ministries Division (WMD) Committee has taken note of the work of three teams studying ways of attracting investment into the Palestinian territories to boost economic recovery there.

The groups are acting on a little-known commissioner's resolution passed by the 216th General Assembly (2004).

The elected members of WMD heard the report as a work-in-progress.

The teams are trying to find ways of:

  • Promoting tourism in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza to support Palestinian hotels, restaurants, and other places of business.
  • Supporting the efforts of Palestinian Christians to create low-cost housing in their communities.
  • Expanding international marketing of Palestinian crafts and products.

The resolution also says that, however the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) chooses to spur economic development in Palestine, it will honor established church policy opposing violence and terror and supporting the right of Israel and Palestine to exist within legitimate and secure borders.

The General Assembly Council (GAC) will act on the work groups. recommendations during its April meeting here.

Although the resolution passed simultaneously with the Assembly.s decision to employ shareholder pressure against corporations whose business practices contribute to violence in the Israeli-occupied territories through a process of phased, selective divestment, it was little-noticed.

"One of the criticisms we took over the divestment action was, 'Why aren't we divesting in Palestine?' Well, what investments are there to divest of?" the Rev. Will Browne asked rhetorically during an interview with the Presbyterian News Service (PNS) while the council was meeting last week. Browne coordinates WMD's ecumenical partnerships with churches around the world.

"This is an attempt to encourage development and investment in responsible parts of the Palestinian economy," he said.

The PC(USA)'s conversations with Citigroup includes a review of policies related to money-laundering to ensure that funds are not be funneled to terrorist organizations, as alleged in some news accounts.

Browne said the denomination's involvement will be "with and through" partner churches, ecumenical organizations and humanitarian agencies. He said the PC(USA) may hire a part-time, short-term project manager to get the work up and running, if it is approved.

The resolution, from an Ohio Valley Presbytery pastor, calls for "an intentional and systematic effort of development and compassionate action in Palestine," and for a study to determine whether such investment is feasible.

The three Palestinian bishops of Jerusalem – representing the Lutheran, Roman Catholic and Anglican churches – have appealed to churches to help create jobs and build low-cost housing to stem the flow of Christians leaving the country to escape the economic crisis there.

An initial fact-finding trip to study the investment resolution was led by Don Mead, a retired economics professor from Glen Arbor, MI, and the Rev. Marthame Sanders of Atlanta, a former mission worker in the Palestinian church. Douglas Dicks, a longtime mission worker in Jerusalem, scheduled visits with more than 25 church leaders, representatives of non-governmental organizations, business people and a representative of the Palestinian Authority.

Browne said the initiative is intended to address the desperation of people in "deep economic need, and the desperate circumstances in which they live."


2016-10-24T07:29:53+00:00 February 17th, 2006|Categories: News|