04-01 On Reviewing General Assembly Policy Regarding the Two-State Solution in Israel Palestine—From the Presbytery of San Francisco.
Source: Presbytery Event:221st General Assembly (2014)
Committee:
[04-01] Middle East Issues
Sponsor:
San Francisco Presbytery
Topic:Unassigned Type:General Assembly Full Consideration
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Assembly Action
On this Item, the General Assembly, acted as follows:
Approve
Electronic Vote - Plenary
Affirmative: 482
Negative: 88
Abstaining: 0
Committee Recommendation
On this Item, the Middle East Issues Committee, acted as follows:
Approve
[Counted Vote - Committee]
Affirmative:47
Negative:13
Abstaining:0
Recommendation

The Presbytery of San Francisco overtures the 221st General Assembly (2014) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to:

1.    Instruct the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy (ACSWP) to do the following:

a.           Provide a comprehensive history of the establishment of General Assembly policies favoring a two-state solution in Israel Palestine.

b.           Prepare a report to the 222nd General Assembly (2016), utilizing the report of the Middle East Study Committee approved by the 219th General Assembly (2010)—Breaking Down the Walls (Minutes, 2010, Part I, pp. 1021ff); the subsequent follow-up report by the Middle East Monitoring Group to the 220th General Assembly (2012) (Minutes, 2012, Part I, pp. 1413ff); and relevant and recent reports by the United Nations General Assembly Human Rights Council, the World Council of Churches, other corresponding ecumenical partners, and reliable human rights organizations that achieves the following:

(1)  Provides the most up-to-date information regarding all aspects of the Israeli occupation of Palestine including

(a)          the present status and pace of illegal settlement building;

(b)         the appropriation of Palestinian land and natural resources;

(c)          the restriction of movement on Palestinian citizens in Palestine;

(d)         the extent to which human rights are denied to the Palestinian people.

(2)  Examines present General Assembly statements about the viability of a Palestinian state and honestly evaluates these statements in light of the most recent developments regarding the true facts on the ground in Palestine;

(3)  Makes a recommendation about whether the General Assembly should continue to call for a two-state solution in Israel Palestine, or take a neutral stance that seeks not to determine for Israelis and Palestinians what the right “solution” should be.

(4)  Makes other policy recommendations related to findings from this report.

c.            Consult with responsible parties representing the concerns of both Israelis and Palestinians in preparation of this report.

d.           Consult also with appropriate, official PC(USA) General Assembly entities in the preparation of this report, including staffing teams, mission networks, and national caucuses.

2.    Provide a study guide for the report to the 222nd General Assembly (2016) that will help inform the whole church of the situation on the ground in Palestine, pointing out the enormous difficulty of helping “in the development of a viable infrastructure for a future Palestinian state” (action taken by the 220th General Assembly-2012). This study guide should honestly point out that:

a.           For every two-year period occurring between General Assembly meetings, Palestinians are suffering an increasing loss of their human rights, freedom, livelihoods, property, and even their lives;

b.           Simple, financial investment in a completely occupied land where the occupiers are relentless and unwavering regarding their occupation is not enough to dismantle the matrix of that occupation or dramatically change the vast majority of communities or individual lives that are bowed and broken by systematic and intentional injustice.

Rationale

Rationale

A.           Official Policy Statements on the Two-State Solution by PC(USA) General Assemblies

1.    The 214th General Assembly (2002) urged “all the parties involved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to work toward a just sustainable peace by… an affirmation by Israel that it will work with Palestinians toward the establishment of a viable, contiguous Palestinian state with the same sovereign rights as those of the State of Israel” (Minutes, 2002, Part I, pp. 732–33).

2.    The 215th General Assembly (2003) reaffirmed “the actions of previous General Assemblies (cf., in 1998, 1997, 1996, 1995, 1992, 1991, 1990 …, 1988, 1987, 1986, and earlier to 1967) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and communications by the Stated Clerk based on those actions … supporting the resolutions of the United Nations, affirming the right of Israel to exist within secure borders, and the right of the Palestinians to self-determination, including the establishment of their own sovereign state and the right of return of Palestinian refugees” (Minutes, 2003, Part I, p. 636).

3.    The 218th General Assembly (2008) endorsed “the ‘Amman Call’ regarding Arab-Israeli peace, issued by the World Council of Churches’ conference, ‘Churches Together for Peace and Justice in the Middle East,’ … including its affirmation of the U.N. resolutions that are the basis of a projected ‘two-state’ solution, a shared Jerusalem, and the human rights of refugees and occupied peoples …” (Minutes, 2008, Part I, p. 1137).

4.    The 219th General Assembly (2010) called for “the immediate resumption by Israel and Palestine of negotiations toward a two-state solution” (Minutes, 2010, Part I, p. 1023).

B.           The Two-State Solution Then and Now

[See Map 1 and Map 2 under “Additional Resources.”]

These maps clearly delineate the present status of the so-called “two-states” of Israel and Palestine. Map 1 shows the erosion of the Palestinian territory, over six decades, which was to provide for a viable state. In the panel outlining the U.N. Partition Plan in 1947, as well as the panel showing a significant loss of territory from 1949–1967, a two-state solution still appeared viable. As can be seen in the panel showing the present state of Palestine since 2005, it is hard to look at this portion of the map and think that a two-state solution can ever be achieved. It is important to remember that all the white space in what once was a contiguous West Bank (named because it is west of the Jordan River) represents land now controlled by the Israeli military. The green splotches (often referred to as Bantustans or cantons) are separated by thirty foot concrete walls, electrified and barbed wire fencing systems, and checkpoints managed by the Israeli military through which all Palestinians, as well as others (tourists, for instance), must pass to travel between Palestinian cantons or into Israel proper. Tourists pass through easily, of course, as they go to visit holy sites on the Palestinian side of the walls (Bethlehem, for instance). Palestinians do not. They are prevented from visiting friends and family in other regions, conducting business, receiving adequate medical care, pursuing an education, or even getting to their olive groves for planting and harvest. As it presently stands, the “Palestinian state” has no contiguity and the matrix of Israeli occupation prevents free movement among Palestinians.

Map 2 shows why this matrix presently exists. This map, prepared by the United Nations Human Rights Commission for a report on the human rights situation in Palestine in March 2013 points out where the numerous illegal Israeli settlements presently exist. The settlements are called “illegal” for the simple reason that international law clearly prohibits occupying nations from creating permanent settlements on the land they occupy for the purpose of transferring their population to occupied regions. Bear in mind that for each black dot on the map, there is a system of walls, fences and checkpoints separating the settlements from Palestinian populations. In order to accommodate this, large sections of Palestinian land have been confiscated to provide what the Israeli government considers to be an adequate buffer zone between its citizens and Palestinians. In addition, from the Palestinian land that has been confiscated for this purpose, Israel draws out the natural resources necessary to support the settlements. This includes sources of Palestinian water, greatly reducing the water supply of Palestinians in the areas where they are still permitted to live.

At the present time, Israeli settlement expansion continues at a fast pace and in five to ten years there will be more black dots on the map than there are today. In light of these facts on the ground, it seems unrealistic, and perhaps even naïve, for the PC(USA) to maintain a policy of calling for a two-state solution when no real possibility of that seems to exist. The commissioning of this report is intended to provide the church with precise and accurate information to help it shape its policy on this conflict for the future. It is important to note that this is not a call for creating policy to support a different kind of solution (one-state, for instance). Rather, it is an effort to examine how our church can continue to be relevant in the discussion about the situation as it presently stands. This first requires an honest appraisal of the rapidly changing facts on the ground and whether past policies adequately address those facts.

C.           Recent Developments

The 220th General Assembly (2012) called upon the General Assembly Mission Council to “create a process to raise funds to invest in the West Bank” to be inaugurated at this 221st General Assembly (2014) (Minutes, 2012, Part I, p. 1400). The purpose of this is to fund “active investment in projects that will support collaboration among Christians, Jews, and Muslims and help in the development of a viable infrastructure for a future Palestinian state” (Minutes, 2012, Part I, p. 1396).

As virtuous as this statement sounds, its fundamental flaw comes in the fact that no one knows what a “viable infrastructure for a future Palestinian state” looks like, nor how to achieve that even though our church has been calling for this since 1967. The reason for this is simply because every policy and every action taken by the Israeli government in regard to Palestine is dedicated towards the non-existence of a viable infrastructure in the Occupied West Bank. There can be no denial, in accordance with the approval of the Middle East Study Committee report by the 219th General Assembly (2010) that the facts on the ground in present-day Palestine point toward the destruction of everything required to ensure that a viable Palestinian state can ever exist. In that sense, the Middle East Study Committee report, known as Breaking Down the Walls, as well as the study guide of the Kairos Palestine Document developed by the Middle East Monitoring Group (2012), are clear warnings that the viability of a sovereign Palestinian state, if not impossible already, is in extreme danger.

In March 2013, the Israeli newspaper, Ha’aretz, quoted Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, head of the Palestinian National Initiative movement: “The passivity of international diplomacy and that of the Americans in particular is especially dangerous and unacceptable in the face of the establishment of an even more extremist, settlement-expanding Israeli government than its predecessor. This Obama policy speeds up the end of the two-state solution.” The article points out: “At the beginning of his presidency Obama raised expectation when he called for a halt to construction in the settlements, but he quickly abandoned this demand and now only expects that the Palestinians renew the barren negotiations that have gone on for 20 years. All that Israel expects from the Palestinians in the negotiations is to agree to self-rule in Bantustans—something no Palestinian or none of their leaders will accept.”

With this said, and in light of the fact the 220th General Assembly (2012) voted to put a plan for investment in Palestine in place, we call upon the General Assembly to not receive the General Assembly Mission Council plan for investment without seriously considering what is truly required to bring Christians, Jews, and Muslims together in a way that would actually create a viable infrastructure in a land where the policies of the occupier are dedicated towards not only preventing that, but destroying what little infrastructure presently exists. Accepting such an investment plan at this General Assembly must be coupled with an action that takes seriously the present condition of the Palestinian state, honestly asks hard questions about standing General Assembly policy regarding the two-state solution, and fully informs all Presbyterians (as well as our ecumenical partners) about these conditions and facts. The purpose of this overture is to not derail recommendations asked for by the 220th General Assembly (2012), but to simply point out that this is not enough. We need to completely understand all the conditions under which we are investing Presbyterian funds, and consequently, the barriers to overall success from the standpoint of human justice.

It is our contention that the best entity to study this issue, from our historical positions up through our contemporary concerns, is the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy, which understands the full breadth and depth of this issue as well as General Assembly policy statements as they have been discussed and debated in our denomination throughout the decades.

Financial Implication

Per Capita - $19,200 (2015)  $5,460 (2016)

Comment
ACREC Advice and Counsel

The Advocacy Committee for Racial Ethnic Concerns advises the 221st General Assembly (2014) to approve Item 04-01.

The Advocacy Committee for Racial Ethnic Concerns recommends approval of this item because we are in need of a comprehensive report that recaps our church’s positions over the decades vis-à-vis Israel and Palestine, and helps Presbyterians understand the historical basis for the current scene and facts on the ground. Additionally, it is vitally important for the church to review its decades-old policy on the two-state solution, which has not been informed by the most recent developments in the region and the latest rounds of peace negotiations.

The ACREC believes the right to self-determination is a fundamental right and in today’s post-colonial era, it is paternalistic and even patronizing for one nation or people to tell another nation or people what kind of government or state is right for them.

The ACREC believes that after decades of the PC(USA) supporting a “two-state solution,” it is time for us to leave that decision to the people who live in the region and have to handle the day-to-day obstacles. Both Israelis and Palestinians are very capable of determining what type of state and government they desire. Even with our long history of partnership in the region, for an American denomination in another hemisphere to profess that a particular type of “solution” is ideal harkens back to a colonial mindset and era.

The ACREC strongly believes that, yes, Presbyterians do need to know the facts on the ground and question the occupation of Palestine, now nearing fifty years, but ACREC also believes we should not support one type of solution over another. The Israelis and Palestinians should determine what type of solution is right for them, not us.

The ACREC strongly urges the 221st General Assembly (2014) to approve this overture.

ACSWP Advice and Counsel

The Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy advises that this overture be approved as amended below: [Text to be deleted is shown with brackets and with a strike-through; text to be added or inserted is shown with brackets and with an underline.]

“The [Presbytery of San Francisco overtures the] 221st General Assembly (2014) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) [to]:

“[A.               With regard to the ‘peace process’ between Israel and Palestine,

“[1.        respectfully urges the president of the United States, with congressional approval as necessary, to request that the Security Council of the United Nations take responsibility for any further peace negotiations between the State of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (or other appropriately representative body); to recommend that the Security Council designate an envoy to lead future negotiations and to determine and report publicly on obstacles to the implementation of Resolution 242 and subsequent agreements and accords; and to recommend measures to end the occupation of all territories ruled by Israel since 1967, to ensure equal citizenship rights for all inhabitants under Israeli control, and to ensure that Jerusalem is a shared capitol where historic sites and free exercise of all three historic monotheistic faiths are protected; all based on previous internationally agreed upon terms of reference (including UN Resolution 338 following the 1973 war, and respecting the 1967 borders, E. Jerusalem, rights of refugees, security, and other final status issues);

“[2.        approves in principle the position that no U.S. military, security, or intelligence aid, assistance, or cooperation be given to any government that practices or permits systematic religious, racial, or ethnic discrimination;

“[3.        directs the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly, the Office of Public Witness, and the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations to communicate the positions above to the president of the United States, members of Congress, United Nations member missions, and ecumenical partners;

“[B.               With regard to the public witness of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.):]

“1.          Instruct[s] the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy (ACSWP) to do the following:

“a.   [Text remains unchanged.]

“b.  [Text remains unchanged.]

“(1)        [Text remains unchanged.]

“(a) [Text remains unchanged.]

“(b)               [Text remains unchanged.]

“(c) [Text remains unchanged.]

“(d)               [Text remains unchanged.]

“(2)        Examines present General Assembly statements about the viability of a Palestinian state and [honestly] evaluates these statements in light of the most recent developments regarding the [true] facts on the ground in Palestine;

“(3)        [Text remains unchanged.]

“(4)        [Text remains unchanged.]

“c.   [Appoint three experts and appropriate Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy and Mission Agency staff, including a writer, to] [C] [c]onsult with responsible parties representing the concerns of both Israelis and Palestinians in preparation of this report[, including official assessments of negotiating prospects obtained through face-to-face contact in Israel and Palestine, as well as Washington, D.C., and New York City].

“d.  [Text remains unchanged.]

“2.          Provide a study guide for the report to the 222nd General Assembly (2016) that will help inform the whole church of the situation on the ground in Palestine, pointing out the enormous difficulty of helping ‘in the development of a viable infrastructure for a future Palestinian state’ (action taken by the 220th General Assembly-2012). This study guide should [consider whether] [honestly point out that]:

“a.   [Text remains unchanged.]

“b.  [Direct] [Simple,] financial investment in a completely occupied land where the occupiers are relentless and unwavering regarding their occupation is not enough to dismantle the matrix of that occupation or dramatically change the vast majority of communities or individual lives that are bowed and broken by systematic and intentional injustice.”

The presbyteries sponsoring this overture are correct in identifying the plausibility of a “two-state solution” as the basic question facing any peace process. Further, they correctly cite Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) policy and outline the components of a study of the material feasibility of a two-state solution. The maps provided are generally accurate approximations of a process by which land has been annexed, encircled by the Separation Wall, classified as public land and given to settlements, or, as in Area C, declared off-bounds to Palestinians for security reasons. The Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy comments on the very real economic obstacles to Palestinian self-determination in its Advice & Counsel memorandum on Item 04-06, Occupation-Free Investment, and the resolution proposed as Item 04-09..

The Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy believes that the study proposed could be carried out by a small team of persons at reasonable cost, building on the extensive policy developed in 2010, and that this would be a reasonable and customary expenditure of per capita funds that General Assemblies normally allocate for studies and public witness.

The purpose of such a focused study would be enhanced, in the committee’s view, by greater attention to the diplomatic dynamics that would themselves be improved by the second section suggested. The recommendation for a change in framework for negotiations is strongly in line with the church’s support for a two-state solution. It recognizes that any internationally recognized solution would in large part be a political decision or direction, not simply a matter of facts on the ground. Commissioners may wish to separate the committee’s recommendation, but it would not affect the need for a study nor the need for nonviolent economic witness as the end of the recent peace process demonstrates.

The depth to which Israeli identity and worldwide support are anchored in the concept of a homeland for Jewish people, and the tensions between religious preferences and democratic values of all parties, require careful understanding as there are several entwined narratives within the larger picture of Israeli power and Palestinian dispossession.

There are also significant differences among Palestinian positions vis-à-vis civic and religious freedom, alongside de jure and de facto recognition of Israel’s presence on 78 percent of Palestinian territory prior to 1948. The basic acceptance of Israel’s claim to land within the 1949 armistice lines—the basis of the 1967 Green Line—was made by the Palestine National Congress in 1988; all subsequent negotiations simply focus on how the remaining 22 percent will be apportioned. Some official refusals to recognize Israel by Palestinian groups relate to their concern that Israel has never declared its borders, while some Israeli parties in the governing coalition deny any rights of Palestinians to a state.

Thus the obstacles to a two-state solution reflect both the physical “facts on the ground” identified in the overture, and the diplomatic imbalance of relying on Israel’s primary ally also to function as mediator. In light of the collapse of the second set of peace talks in five years (the George Mitchell process, then John Kerry’s effort), and the failure of the Oslo Accords to halt the continuing growth of settlements (more than 550,000 settlers over the Green Line since 1995, in addition to approximately 50,000 prior to those agreements), the argument for a more objective international process seems strong. Despite weaknesses in some UN peacemaking efforts, where there is international consensus there have been successes (Libya, Syria’s chemical weapons, many regional cease-fires and international treaties). There may be other international methods better than the Security Council envoy proposed, but the fact is that maintaining U.S. custodianship of the process recalls the saying about trying the same thing again and again and expecting different results. Not likely.

Shifting the key venue of negotiation to the highest level of the United Nations would allow the international consensus in favor of freedom for the Palestinians (as seen in the vote for Palestine’s status as a non-member observer state) to help create a fairer balance in negotiation between the vastly unequal parties of Israel and Palestine. By going to the Security Council (rather than the Human Rights Council or the “Quartet” with its monitoring and marketing role), the United States would retain its role (and veto) but would share more broadly the moral responsibility for the on-going denial of human rights in occupied Palestine. A UN process would also necessarily involve the application of international law as a common standard for Palestinian and Israeli actions.

A summary of three standard positions on negotiations over peace in the Middle East may be taken from a review by Philip Wilcox of books by Jimmy Carter, Benny Morris, and Daniel C. Kurtzer and Scott B. Lasensky in 2009, as the first Obama administration effort began (Wilcox, Philip C., Jr. “Brokering Mideast Peace,” The Christian Century, July 28, 2009, pp. 31–33). Wilcox, a former ambassador to the region, contrasts Carter’s relative optimism (in We Can Have Peace in the Holy Land), Morris’ pessimism (in One State, Two States: Resolving the Israel/Palestine Conflict), and the realism of another ambassador and U.S. Institute for Peace Fellow on the need to focus on U.S. strategic interests and stop serving as “Israel’s lawyer,” in Aaron David Miller’s phrase. Carter argued that Hamas had shown it could cooperate, that the U.S. should work with the 2002 Arab League Peace Initiative (which offered normalization across the region if the occupation ended) and that a multinational peace force could be offered to allay Israeli security concerns. Morris, an Israeli “new historian” who had debunked many myths about the creation of Palestinian refugees in the 1940s, had come to fear and distrust Palestinians generally, based partly on blaming Yassir Arafat for Camp David’s failure. He favored giving the West Bank to Jordan and Gaza to Egypt, neither of which is desired by the would-be recipient countries, which already have many Palestinians. The third book, Negotiating Arab-Israeli Peace: American Leadership in the Middle East, argued that “Washington must be tougher by insisting on the parties’ accountability to their previous commitments and by penalizing violations….” This has not happened, and seems increasingly unlikely given the role of special interest money in U.S. politics.

Rather than seeing mutual accountability, in fact, during the recent nine month “peace talks” sponsored by the United States, the Israeli government announced more than 14,000 new housing units in the settlements, often timing the announcements to undercut visits of U.S. government officials. Secretary of State John Kerry has testified that Israel’s refusal to curtail settlements and finally to release a fourth group of only twenty-five Palestinian prisoners led to a “poof” that ended the process—and that process had become one of simply trying to find a framework for continuing to talk. There were no significant achievements during the 9 months, and in fact a growing number of “price tag” desecrations of Christian and Muslim sites, increased number of shootings of nonviolent Palestinian protesters and farmers trying to harvest alongside “security zones,” and numbers of Palestinians denied identity cards in Jerusalem. The growth of settlements, however, seems the clearest marker of a systematic disregard for the feasibility of a Palestinian state.

The actual complexity of negotiations may thus be overstated, as Mahmoud Abbas signaled Palestinian willingness to allow Israeli security forces in the Jordan valley in a non-militarized Palestinian State. While the division among Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank and East Jerusalem was criticized, a plan for rejoining governance of the two enclaves has been equally criticized by the current Israeli government. Prime Minister Netanyahu used Palestinian unity as a reason to blame Palestinians for the latest failed peace process. It may thus be helpful to remember Prime Minister Netanyahu’s response to the Oslo process. To quote from Wikipedia, noting its own citations:

“In a 2001 video, Netanyahu, reportedly unaware he was being recorded, said: “They asked me before the election if I'd honor [the Oslo accords]... I said I would, but [that] I'm going to interpret the accords in such a way that would allow me to put an end to this galloping forward to the '67 borders. How did we do it? Nobody said what defined military zones were. Defined military zones are security zones; as far as I'm concerned, the entire Jordan Valley is a defined military zone. Go argue.”[9][10] Netanyahu then explained how he conditioned his signing of the 1997 Hebron agreement on American consent that there be no withdrawals from “specified military locations”, and insisted he be allowed to specify which areas constituted a “military location”—such as the whole of the Jordan Valley. “Why is that important? Because from that moment on I stopped the Oslo Accords”, Netanyahu affirmed”.[11] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Declaration_of_Principles

Two sources are given for the initial quote: Wong, Curtis (16 July 2010), “Netanyahu In 2001: 'America Is A Thing You Can Move Very Easily'“, The Huffington Post, and Glenn Kessler (16 July 2010), “Netanyahu: 'America is a thing you can move very easily'“. The Washington Post. The second quote is from Gideon Levy (15 July 2010), “Tricky Bibi”. Haaretz. Retrieved 23 September 2011.

Commissioners may wish to approve this overture with or without the proposed amendments, or to decline the call to study this matter, or to ask that the study be done on another basis. In general, it has been the position of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) that policy recommendations be made by people elected to committees commissioned for that purpose. Either the small expert task force recommended, or a purely staff or consultant arrangement, would both be guided by prior General Assembly policy, consult with church partners, and report through the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy, which consists of Presbyterians elected to develop ways to respond to and nurture the conscience of the church.

ACWC Advice and Counsel

The Advocacy Committee for Women’s Concern offers the following advice and counsel to the 221st General Assembly (2014) on Item 04-01.

Women have long been invested in peacemaking initiatives and cooperative and collaborative leadership. The ACWC stands in solidarity with international women’s ecumenical and interfaith groups advocating for women’s voices to be heard regarding ongoing conflicts in Israel-Palestine and against war and militarism. In addition, ACWC is aware that the current debate among Presbyterians over the best way to speak to the oppression of Palestinians is highly polarized, even among advocates for justice. In light of this fact, ACWC recommends that the committee leadership be asked to use the 1992 statement, “Seeking to Be Faithful Together: Guidelines for Presbyterians During Times of Disagreement,” as a guide for their discussions. (The statement can be accessed by following this link: https://www.pcusa.org/site_media/media/uploads/peacemaking/pdf/guidelines.pdf.

 

Assembly Committee on Bills and Overtures Comment

“Due to the financial and staffing implications, before authorizing the establishment of a special committee, the assembly shall hear a report from the Assembly Committee on Bills and Overtures, which shall have consulted with the most closely related entity and a member designated from the Committee on the Office of the General Assembly, as to whether the work to be assigned to the special committee could

more effectively and economically be assigned to that entity” (from Standing Rules K.1.a.).

 

The Bills and Overtures Committee has consulted with the staff from the Presbyterian Mission Agency and the representative from the Committee on the Office of General Assembly and finds that the work to assigned this study team could not be done within the existing structures.

 

OGA Comment

The Office of the General Assembly and the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly requests that commissioners and advisory delegates carefully consider any items of business that would raise the per capita rate. The COGA made a commitment to bring no increase to the per capita rate to the 221st General Assembly (2014) by making significant reductions in the per capita budgets, which included reductions in staff. We would ask that other means be found within existing committee structures to accomplish the same task.

 

PMA Comment

PC(USA) mission partners in the Middle East agree that the current “facts on the ground” and the slim chance of success for the current peace process render a two-state solution unattainable at the current time. It is their view that the long-standing PC(USA) policy, reaffirmed as recently as 2010, supporting a two-state solution is  unrealistic in light of the continued expansion and intractability of Israeli settlements and the obstinacy of the Israeli military occupation of Palestine.

Concurrence
Presbytery of New Brunswick
Presbytery of Palisades
Synod of the Covenant
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