Wednesday, 25 June 2014

In ‘turning-point’ vote, Presbyterians divest from occupation-linked corporations

Image of jumbo screen at Presbyterian assembly, by Jordan Tarwater

Nearly 30 years after it divested from corporations complicit in South African apartheid, the Presbyterian Church voted 310-303 to divest from three corporations involved with the Israeli military and its occupation. The vote means that $21 million of Presbyterian stock in Caterpillar, Hewlett Packard and Motorola Solutions will be divested.

The extraordinarily close vote (51% to 49% of delegates) came after an intense hours-long debate that featured emotional pleas on all sides.

“It hurts me to know that we invest in the tearing apart of Palestinian lives,” said Emma Warman, a youth delegate, before the vote took place. The advisory voters, including the youth delegates, overwhelmingly recommended a positive vote for divestment.

This close vote came two years after another close vote that went in the opposite direction. In 2012, the Presbyterian Church rejected divestment by just two votes.

“After a decade of corporate engagement with Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard, and Motorola Solutions, these companies have failed to modify their behavior and continue to profit from Israeli human rights abuses and non-peaceful pursuits,” said Rev. Dr. Walt Davis in a statement released by the Israel/Palestine Mission Network, a Presbyterian group that supported divestment. “This is a historic vote and the culmination of a long and deliberate internal process within the church.” more

63 Palestinian prisoners suspend hunger strike


RAMALLAH (AFP) -- Sixty-three Palestinian prisoners have suspended the hunger strike which they have observed in Israeli jails since late April, one of their lawyers said Tuesday.

"The strikers, who have reached an agreement with the Israeli prison authorities, have decided to suspend their action with the approach of (the Muslim holy month of) Ramadan," lawyer Abu Snena said.

Details of the deal will be made public on Wednesday, he added.

Shawqi al-Ayasa, the minister of prisoner affairs for the newly-formed Palestinian unity government, confirmed the suspension of the hunger strike, saying a major portion of prisoners' demands had been met.

Prisoners will be returned to the jails from which they were moved when they started striking, and more details of the deal will be revealed "Wednesday or Thursday," said Qaddura Faris, chairman of the Palestinian Prisoners' Society. more

2 Palestinian navy officers injured in Israeli airstrikes on Gaza


GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Two Palestinian navy officers were injured in Israeli airstrikes on Gaza overnight, an official said Wednesday.

Ashraf al-Qidra, the Gaza spokesman of the Palestinian ministry of health, said that two navy police officers were hospitalized after sustaining injuries from an Israeli airstrike on a police station west of Gaza City.

The two are in stable condition, al-Qidra said.

Iyad al-Buzum, spokesman of the Ministry of the Interior in Gaza, said "Palestinian police and other security services continued to fully operate despite the Israeli aggression and the daily strikes."

Airstrikes also hit a military base belonging to Islamic Jihad's al-Quds Brigades, an agricultural area in northern Gaza, a poultry farm east of Khan Younis and a military base on the city's outskirts, and open areas in Deir al-Balah, without causing injuries.

Israeli warplanes also struck a military base in northwest Gaza, causing damages. more