Christian groups call on UK to ban settlement goods
The Quakers and Christian Aid say move would promote peace; Council of Christians and Jews condemns call.
Palestinians call for a boycott Photo: REUTERS
Two Christian groups are calling on the British government to boycott produce
that stems from Israeli settlements, claiming it would promote peace between
Israelis and Palestinians.
Christian Aid and the Quakers are set to tell
the Foreign Affairs Committee in the House of Commons on Tuesday that the
government should implement a total ban of settlement produce by introducing
The call has been strongly condemned by the Council of
Christians and Jews (CCJ), a London-based interfaith charity espousing
constructive dialogue between Jews and Christians, who are urging MPs not to
support the ban.
“The drive of many Christian bodies to press for
boycotts is understandable and probably borne out of its frustration with the
challenges that the Israeli settlements present,” said CCJ CEO Rev. David
“The CCJ questions whether a boycott will achieve much more than
for the few who support it to feel better. The CCJ still opposes boycotts and
considers continued diplomatic engagement and negotiation as the better
response,” he added.
Christian Aid’s advocacy officer for Israel and the
Palestinian territory, William Bell, said that the settlements are illegal under
international law, a major cause of poverty among Palestinians and an obstacle
“They will continue to expand and develop unless action is
taken that backs the routine statements of condemnation from the international
Trade perpetuates the settlements by making them economically
viable,” he said.
Bell said that it is the role of governments to protect
the consumer from purchasing goods from an illegal source, so the group is
calling on the government to impose a ban.
The Quakers said that they see
it as a non-violent action to support efforts to build peace in the
“I have witnessed the damaging impact of the
The problem goes beyond the obvious effects on Palestinian
livelihoods and damages prospects for peace,” said Marisa Johnson, of the
Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) that is managed
by the Quakers.
Jerusalem-based research organization NGO Monitor stated
that EAPPI harbors an anti- Israel stance, in that it supports the boycott,
divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel as well as the right of
Bell said he does not support a total boycott on trade with
Israel but claimed that banning settlement products is justified because
“settlements are illegal and have a negative impact on the Palestinian economic
“Although informed consumer choice can send a powerful
message, on its own it cannot adequately tackle the problem,” Bell
According to NGO Monitor, Christian Aid assumes “a highly biased
and politicized approach” to the conflict.
systematically ignore Palestinian responsibility in the conflict and minimizes
Israel’s right to self-defense. Its partner organizations include some of the
most radical NGOs operating in the region,” the research group
Former Liberal Democrat and anti-Israel campaigner Jenny Tonge is a
former Christian Aid trustee.
Quaker meeting houses in the UK are
regularly used by groups who question Israel’s right to exist and support
boycott action against Israel. In 2007, the Quakers joined a coalition of
anti-Israel groups to mark the “40th anniversary of Israel’s military occupation
of Gaza and the West Bank, including east Jerusalem.”