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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 June, 2005, 09:58 GMT 10:58 UK
Church urges action over Israel
Dr Rowan Williams and other delegates
Earlier in the week US and Canadian Churches were excluded
A top body in the Anglican Communion has urged its churches worldwide to put pressure on firms supporting Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories.

The Anglican Consultative Council also urged action against firms supporting violence against "innocent Israelis".

The move has been welcomed by the Palestinian Bishop, the Right Reverend Riah Hanna Abu El-Assal.

But Barry Marcus, adviser to UK Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, said it would not advance Palestinian statehood.

'Peace, justice'

At the ACC meeting, held in Nottingham, Bishop John Paterson, its New Zealand chairman, said the council commended "the resolve of the Episcopal Church (USA) to take appropriate action where it finds that its corporate investments support the occupation of Palestinian lands or violence against innocent Israelis".

The ACC went on to encourage "investment strategies that support the infrastructure of a future Palestinian State" while calling for "peace, justice and co-existence in the Holy Land".

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But Rabbi Marcus said the resolution was "disastrous".

"They will do nothing to advance the twin causes of security for Israel and statehood for the Palestinians," he said.

"The report itself took a one-sided and subjective view of the situation, and did not reflect the present reality."

'Acting not preaching'

But Bishop for Palestine, the Right Reverend Riah Hanna Abu el-Assal, said: "It is good news for all who are committed to the cause of justice and peace.

"For the first time the Church has started acting, not only preaching.

"It will make Israel re-examine its dealings with the Palestinians, especially in regards to the need to commit to the United Nations resolution, and certainly it has created greater awareness to the facts on the ground in the occupied territories."

It is good news for all who are committed to the cause of justice and peace
Right Reverend Riah Hanna Abu el-Assal
BBC religious affairs correspondent Robert Piggott said the council was not yet considering disinvestment from the companies targeted by its action.

But if they were non-responsive then it would consider that option, he added.

Israel has occupied the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip since capturing them in the 1967 war. It has settled about 400,000 Jewish citizens there, among a 3.5-million-strong Palestinian population.

Such settlement activity is considered illegal under international law, although Israel does not accept this.

The move by the ACC comes just days after it excluded the American and Canadian Churches from meetings for three years over their willingness to ordain gay clergy and bless gay relationships.

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