Quakers ban West Bank settler goods

British Quakers have voted to boycott goods from "illegal" Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

Representatives of the pacifist movement's 23,000 supporters said that the decision, taken at a meeting last Saturday, would give hope to Palestinians and those working for peace in Israel.

Their resolution stated: "We are not at this time proposing to boycott goods from Israel itself, being unwilling to jeopardise continuing dialogue with Israelis and British Jews."

But in support of the settlement goods ban, it declared: "In the face of armed oppression of poor people and the increasing encroachment of the illegal settlements in the West Bank, we cannot do nothing."

As the stronger party, the Quakers said that it was Israel which needed to make changes.

British Quakers prepare volunteers for a World Council of Churches scheme intended to help "end the Israeli occupation" and bring about "a just peace based on international law". More than a hundred volunteers for the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel have been trained since 2002.

Their new policy also reflects the growing influence of the Kairos Document, a call for action by Palestinian Christians which endorses a boycott
of "everything produced by the Occupation".

David Gifford, chief executive of the Council of Christians and Jews, said: "As with other calls for boycotts, CCJ sees them as a negative response."

Instead, he said, the council advocated investment in projects that "supported and advanced understanding, broke down fear and suspicion" and encouraged economic development.

Last updated: 11:25am, April 7 2011