Methodist Church delays Israel boycott decision

Methodist leaders have recommended the church put off any decision on whether to boycott Israel for at least two years.

A resolution to be debated at its policy-making conference in Birmingham next month says that members need more time to reflect and should not submit any motions on “Israel/Palestine” until after their conference of 2016.

Four years ago the Methodist church passed a policy encouraging members to boycott products of Jewish settlements on the West Bank.

Last month the church published a report setting out the pros and cons of adopting further sanctions against Israel but without making a recommendation.

Members will be asked to approve a policy which says that, although divestment from Israel could happen in future, in the meantime they should support projects which promote peace and improve economic conditions in the region.

A spokesman for the Israeli embassy said: "We welcome the recognition by the Methodist church that BDS [boycott, divestment, sanctions] activity has nothing to contribute to the region at this time. We would be pleased to work together to find ways in which the Church can make a positive contribution towards advancing peace."

The Reverend David Gifford, chief executive of the Council of Christians and Jews, said that the Report "rightly recognised the passionate and heartfelt views of many people from a wide spectrum of opinion. Allowing further time for reflection and prayer will afford an opportunity for more listening to the concerns of the UK Jewish Community and engage with new and creative initiatives for mutual understanding and sensitivity."

Last updated: 3:34pm, May 27 2014