Presbyterian Church General Assembly Approves Divestment from Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard and Motorola Solutions for Business Supporting Israel's Occupation of Palestine

For Immediate Release
CONTACT: Rick Ufford-Chase (845) 608-4056
Jan Orr-Harter (817) 291-3952

Detroit, MI. After a great deal of prayer, debate, and thoughtful deliberation, the 221st General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) voted today to divest itself of its stock in three companies whose business supports or profits from the State of Israel's Occupation of Palestine. Young Adult Advisory Delegates voted 65% in favor of the motion, Theological Advisory Delegate over 90%, and Ecumenical and Mission Advisory Delegates 100% in favor of the motion. The Commissioners' vote was much closer, affirming the proposal to divest 51% to 49%.

The action followed ten years of deliberation and efforts at dialogue with the three corporations, Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard and Motorola Solutions (not affiliated with Motorola Inc.)

Testifying before Assembly in Detroit, Rick Ufford-Chase, Executive Director of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, told the commissioners of a conversation he had with a Palestinian he met during his trip to Israel and Palestine in January. "What we are asking is hardly heroic," the man told Ufford-Chase. "All we are asking is that you stop funding our oppression."

Ufford-Chase implored the commissioners to support Palestinians in this nonviolent strategy to bring the occupation to an end. "If we don't support their call for nonviolent action," he reiterated shortly after the vote, "we are hypocritical when we complain that they have taken up violence as the appropriate response to their oppression."

Founded in 1944, the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship is a national community of Presbyterians who believe that Jesus calls the church to help reduce the level of war and violence in the world. According to Rev. Mitch Trigger, the Fellowship's coordinator for Israel/Palestine divestment support at the General Assembly, "The next step for us will be to create resource materials that pastors, sessions and church educators can use to help local Presbyterians better understand this historic action and more steps that they can take to support a just and lasting peace in the Middle East."

Traditionally the Presbyterian Church (USA) restricts its stock investments based on faith values, such as non-investment in tobacco, alcohol, gambling, human rights abuse, weapons and other non-peaceful pursuits. According to the report received by the General Assembly from the committee on Mission Responsibility through Investments (MRTI), the following corporate activities are non-peaceful pursuits:

1. Caterpillar, Inc. sells heavy equipment used by the Israeli government to demolish Palestinian homes and agricultural lands, as well as to build illegal Israeli settlements on that land and roads solely used by illegal Israeli settlers. Additionally, Caterpillar equipment helps to construct the Separation Barrier extending across the 1967 "Green Line" into the East Jerusalem and the West Bank. In particular, the D9 Caterpillar is considered a weapon and is sold to Israel under the US Congressional regulation of foreign military sales.

2. Hewlett-Packard provides hardware and serves as a contractor to the Israeli Navy to manage all Information Technology (IT) including its operational communications, logistics, and planning such as the current naval blockade of the Gaza Strip which attacks Palestinian fishermen and turns back international vessels containing humanitarian supplies. Through its ownership of Electronic Data Systems, HP also sells Israel the electronic biometric identification scanning equipment to monitor the movement of all 2.4 million Palestinians, including mandatory biometric scanning required to be able to get through checkpoints to jobs, hospitals, food and other daily needs. HP also provides communications technology to the Israeli army with a current contract worth an estimated $15 million to sell software products to the Israeli army.

3. Motorola Solutions has been involved with selling wide-area surveillance systems for installation in the illegal Israeli settlements and a communications system known as "Mountain Rose" to the Israeli government, which uses it for military communications, as well as rugged cell phones used by the Occupation forces in the Palestinian Territories. In late 2013, Motorola Solutions signed a fifteen-year contract with the Israeli Ministry of Defense to provide the company's next generation of ruggedized smartphones to the IDF and the Ministry of Defense. Half of the $100 million contract will be provided by United States military assistance and half will be paid by the Israeli military budget, including 15 years of system maintenance by Motorola Solutions Israel.

The long-time stated goal of the Presbyterian Church (USA) in regard to the region is: a safe and secure Israel living alongside an economically viable Palestine with geographic integrity based upon the West Bank and Gaza with East Jerusalem as its Capital. The 221st General Assembly took additional action to protect the rights of Israeli and Palestinian children, to affirm making positive and occupation-free investments and to denounce the recent destruction of agricultural lands at the 100 acre "Tent of Nations" farm in Palestine by the Israeli government.