Presbyterian divestment push passes hurdle; general vote could come Thursday
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Presbyterian divestment push passes hurdle; general vote could come Thursday

Middle East Committee moves to pull funds from Caterpillar and other firms doing business with Israel

Caterpillar manufactured equipment at work in the West Bank (photo credit: Gershon Elinson/Flash90)
Caterpillar manufactured equipment at work in the West Bank (photo credit: Gershon Elinson/Flash90)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The country’s largest Presbyterian church has agreed to vote by week’s end on divesting its portfolio from three companies that it is says has resisted the request to stop providing services that aid Israel’s occupation of the West Bank.

The Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly’s Middle East Committee voted 36 to 11 with one abstention in favoring of divesting its portfolio from Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard and Motorola Solutions. The Committee said the company’s helped “Israel’s use of their products in violations of Palestinian human rights.”

The group recommended the church put those funds instead into companies “engaging in peaceful pursuits in Israel and Palestine.”

The Church’s full convention, being held in Pittsburgh, is expected to vote either Thursday or Friday on the proposal.

Ethan Felson, vice president of the Jewish Council of Public Affairs, is at the convention and is speaking with Church leaders about toning down the resolution, according to a JCPA spokesman.

A 2011 church report found that Caterpillar supplies bulldozers for the demolition of Palestinian homes, Motorola provides cell phone technology to West Bank settlements and Hewlett-Packard manages information technology for the Israeli Navy.

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