The move has been hailed as a gesture of support for Palestinians
Quakers in Britain boycott firms profiting from Israeli occupation
British Christian movement, the Quakers, have become the first church in the UK to announce they will not invest in companies “profiting from the occupation of Palestine”.
The group said it not believe it currently held investments in such companies but it would be amending its investment policy “to ensure this remains the case in future”.
In 2011, the Quakers announced they would boycott goods produced in Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories "until such time as the Israeli occupation of Palestine is ended”.
"With the occupation now in its 51st year, and with no end in near sight, we believe we have a moral duty to state publicly that we will not invest in any company profiting from the occupation,” said Paul Parker, recording clerk for Quakers in Britain.
He added: “We hope that by announcing our refusal to profit from these companies it will encourage others to think about their own investments, and help challenge the legality and practices of the ongoing military occupation.”
The move has been hailed by campaigners as a blow against the continuing illegal occupation of Palestinian territory by Israel. It comes just hours after AirBnB decided to remove listings in Israeli settlements.
The decision, which was made by the church’s trustees in consultation with the national representative body of Quakers on Monday, has been criticised by Jewish leaders in Britain.
Marie van der Zyl, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said the divestment plan was a “biased and petulant act”.
“We urge the Quakers to reverse this decision, to stop promoting division, and to join those of us looking to build bridges instead,” she said.
The Quakers, formally the Religious Society of Friends, are a historic religious movement, which originated in England in the 17th century.
The group are known in Britain for their work in social justice projects, pacifism and opposition to slavery. There are thought to be around 22,000 members in the UK.
The Quakers said the decision fitted into its long history of pursuing ethical investments and “follows decisions not to invest funds in, among others, the fossil fuel industry, arms companies, Apartheid South Africa, and – going even further back – the transatlantic slave trade”.