Backers of a resolution calling for support of a West Bank volunteer programme have scored an overwhelming victory at the General Synod of the Church of England. The scheme, known as EAPPI, the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel, was the focus of a sustained campaign before the Synod by the Board of Deputies, which said that EAPPI promoted "very partisan but very motivated anti-Israel advocates who have almost no grasp of the suffering of normal Israelis."
But despite the Board's opposition to the EAPPI resolution, proposed by Synod member Dr John Dinnen, it received huge support. At today's debate - brought forward because of an adjournment on the Church's discussions about women bishops - there were three separate votes. Twenty-one bishops backed the motion, three voted against, with 14 abstentions; clergy voted 89 in favour, 21 against, with 44 abstentions; while the lay members of Synod voted 91 in favour, 30 against, with 35 abstentions. An amendment from the Bishop of Manchester, Nigel McCulloch, did not pass.
Jon Benjamin, chief executive of the Board of Deputies, said that the EAPPI motion helped to create a climate of hostility towards Israel within the Church of England. "The EAPPI narrative iis based on the experience of volunteers who spend several months living alongside Palestinians in the Territories, but less than a day in Israel, and then return to address audiences who know little or nothing about the reality of everyday life for those on both sides of the conflict."