The US Presbyterian Church narrowly voted on Friday to divest from specific companies that do business with Israel in the West Bank.
At the church's general convention in Detroit, the vote came 310 to 303 to join the divestment campaign against Israel. The Presbyterian Church made the decision with the vote to divest from Caterpillar, Hewlett Packard and Motorola Solutions due to what the church said are business dealings with settlements in the West Bank.
"We as a church cannot profit from the destruction of homes and lives," said Reverend Gradye Parsons in a statement about the decision at its meeting in Detroit. "We continue to invest in many businesses involved in peaceful pursuits in Israel."
Members of one of the largest mainline Protestant denominations had voiced concerns for years over the prospect of companies profiting from "non-peaceful pursuits", and the decision came amid an international movement pushing a boycott of Israeli goods.
The ADL made clear its condemnation with the church's decision saying it was "out of step with the views of the majority of Presbyterians in the pews and sends a painful message to American Jews."
"Over the past ten years, PC(USA) leaders have fomented an atmosphere of open hostility to Israel within the church, promoted a one-sided presentation of the complex realities of the Middle East, and permitted the presentation of a grossly distorted image of the views of the Jewish community," the ADL added.
A response by the church attempted to clarify that the vote did not imply an embrace of Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) against Israel, to which the ADL responded, "The claim by the PC(USA) that it does not support the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement is simply not reflected in this resolution and the overall tone of the discussions."
The church, which has included in its ranks many U.S. Presidents, said the companies supply equipment and materials used to destroy homes and construct and monitor Israeli checkpoints and settlements, which most countries view as illegal and an obstacle to peacemaking.
The motion carried in the vote also expressed support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and affirms Israel's legitimacy as a state, among other commitments.
Church officials were careful to say they are not fully aligning themselves with the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which campaigns for a blanket boycott of all Israeli goods and questions Israel's legitimacy.
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