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On Recognition That Israel’s Laws, Policies, and Practices Constitute Apartheid Against the Palestinian People[/TD]

Committee Recommendation


On this Item, the International Engagement Committee acted as follows: Approve as Amended
Counted Vote - Committee
Affirmative: 28
Negative: 3
Abstaining:

Final text: Show Amended Text

Text for Assembly Consideration
1. Recognize that the government of Israel’s laws, policies, and practices regarding the Palestinian people fulfill the international legal definition of apartheid. Apartheid is legally defined as inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them This occurs in Israel/Palestine through:
a. Establishing two sets of laws, one for Israelis and one for Palestinians, which give preferential treatment to Israeli Jews and oppressive treatment to Palestinians,
b. Expropriating Palestinian land and water for Jewish-only settlements.
c. Denying the right to freedom of residence to Palestinians.
d. Dividing the population along racial lines by the creation of separate reserves and ghettos for the Palestinians.
e. Denying Palestinians the right to a nationality.
2. Urge members, congregations, presbyteries, and national staff units, including the Office of Interfaith Relations, to seek appropriate ways to bring an end to Israeli apartheid.
3. Direct the Stated Clerk to communicate this action to all other PC(USA) councils.


Recommendation


This item was referred from the 224th General Assembly (2020) for consideration during the 225th General Assembly (2022).

The Presbytery of Grace overtures the 225th General Assembly (2022) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to do the following:
1. Recognize that Israel’s laws, policies, and practices regarding the Palestinian people fulfill the international legal definition of apartheid. Apartheid is legally defined as inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them This occurs in Israel/Palestine through:
a. Establishing two sets of laws, one for Israelis and one for Palestinians, which give preferential treatment to Israeli Jews and oppressive treatment to Palestinians,
b. Expropriating Palestinian land and water for Jewish-only settlements.
c. Denying the right to freedom of residence to Palestinians.
d. Dividing the population along racial lines by the creation of separate reserves and ghettos for the Palestinians.
e. Denying Palestinians the right to a nationality.
2. Urge members, congregations, presbyteries, and national staff units, including the Office of Interfaith Relations, to seek appropriate ways to bring an end to Israeli apartheid.
3. Direct the Stated Clerk to communicate this action to all other PC(USA) councils.

Rationale


Purpose
This overture is pursued with the hope it will lead to a peaceful reconciliation for the people of Israel and Palestine similar to that which occurred in South Africa when apartheid was internationally acknowledged.
Just thirty years ago there was serious injustice, widespread suffering, and major human rights abuses in South Africa because of apartheid laws, practices, and policies that established a preferential legal status and material privileges to one group of people based on their identity while discriminating against another group based on their inferior status. The favored group received preferential access to land, water, other resources, and to government benefits and services while the disfavored group was confined to ever shrinking non-contiguous territorial enclaves. The peaceful reconciliation of the peoples in South Africa and the creation of a stable political state were accomplished only after the churches and the nations of the world recognized that South Africa’s laws, practices, and policies constituted a crime against humanity In the 1960s South African soccer teams were banned from international soccer competition because of the government’s apartheid policies. A few decades later South Africa hosted the 1995 Rugby World Cup, a remarkable demonstration of the political transformation that can take place when the world recognizes apartheid and a government responds by granting human rights for all people. It is hoped that the Israeli government policies toward the Palestinian people will undergo a similar transformation if Israeli apartheid is internationally acknowledged.

Why Presbyterians Must Act
To solve a problem, one has to honestly recognize and acknowledge that the problem exists. The rationale section of this overture will demonstrate how Israel’s practices towards Palestinians fit the United Nations and World Court definitions of apartheid. As Presbyterians we believe the prophetic mission of the church is to speak the Word of God courageously, honestly, and lovingly in the local context and in the midst of daily life; following the example of Jesus, the church is called to stand alongside the oppressed to help bring about justice, peace, and reconciliation. Christians spoke out in the 1950s against segregation in the United States and later against apartheid in South Africa. They must again raise their voices and condemn Israel’s discrimination against Palestinians and give a name to the crime against humanity that this discrimination represents, the crime of apartheid.
The PC(USA) would not be the first to name Israel’s practices as constituting apartheid. As Nobel Peace Prize laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu wrote to the 221st General Assembly (2014) delegates, “I know firsthand that Israel has created an apartheid reality within its borders and through its occupation.”
The National Christian Coalition of Christian Organizations in Palestine (NCCOP), in a letter to the World Council of Churches that was formally received and recommended for study by the 223rd General Assembly (2018) of the PC(USA), called upon the church to urge “the ending of [Israel’s] occupation, Apartheid and discriminations, and accept refugees to return to their home land and properties” (Minutes, 2018, Part I, p. 1129).
Many Jewish leaders, both Israeli and American, have similarly named Israel’s practices as apartheid. former Israeli Minister of Education, said: (2008). former Israeli Minister of Education, said: “ (2007). , former director of the American Jewish Congress & Synagogue Council of America, said, (2007). Indeed, a 2012 poll of Israeli Jews found that a majority recognize that Israel practices apartheid. https://www.haaretz.com/.premium-isr...exed-1.5194145.
Recent events have only made the situation clearer, most especially with Israel’s Nation-State law, passed in 2018, that declares that “The right to exercise national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people.” The Palestinians who have lived there for centuries have no such right.
For too long, too many Americans and Presbyterians have seen the conflict between Israeli Jews and Palestinians through the frame of two peoples who can’t get along. This frame is not accurate, and thus not helpful. The core of the conflict is not enmity between two peoples but an unjust structure of power that privileges one group of people over another, a structure that is reflected legally at all levels of society. Following our Palestinian Christian siblings, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, many Israeli Jewish leaders, and the majority of the Israeli Jewish populace, we must name this unjust structure by its most accurate name—apartheid.