Archives: February 2006
Fri Feb 10, 2006
Church votes to sell off shares in Caterpillar
The Church of England's general synod - including the Archbishop of Canterbury - voted last night to disinvest church funds from companies profiting from Israel's illegal occupation of Palestinian territory.
The main target of the plan will be the US earth-moving equipment company Caterpillar which has supplied vehicles used by Israel to demolish Palestinian homes. When the worldwide Anglican communion called for such a move, at a meeting last summer, there followed protests from Israel and Jewish groups. The church currently invests about £2.5m of its £900m share portfolio in Caterpillar and had been engaged in negotiations with the company about its activities. Caterpillar insists it has not provided the earth movers directly to Israel but to the US military which sold them on.
So passionate was the debate that it squeezed out an equally contentious decision last Friday by the Church commissioners, managers of the church's investment and property portfolio, to sell off the century-old Octavia Hill housing estates for more than 1,000 poor tenants in south London to property developers.
On the first day of its meeting in London, the general synod, the church's parliament, heard denunciations of Israel's use of the machines from one of its own bishops and from the Anglican bishop of Jerusalem, who is Palestinian, whose letter was read out.
The Rt Rev John Gladwin, Bishop of Chelmsford, who is chairman of Christian Aid, told the meeting that the problem in the Middle East was the government of Israel rather than Caterpillar but that it was vital that the church should invest only in organisations which behaved ethically.
Architects threaten to boycott Israel over 'apartheid' barrier
A group including some of Britain's most prominent architects is considering calling for an economic boycott of Israel's construction industry in protest at the building of Israeli settlements and the separation barrier in the Occupied Territories.
Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine, whose members include Richard Rogers and the architectural critic Charles Jenckes, met for the first time last week in secret at the London headquarters of Lord Rogers' practice. He introduced the meeting, and the 60 attendees went on to condemn the illegal annexation of Palestinian land and the construction of the vast fence and concrete separation barrier running through the West Bank and Jerusalem.
The group said that architects, planners and engineers working on Israeli projects in the occupied territories were "complicit in social, political and economic oppression", and "in violation of their professional code of ethics".
It said that: "Planning, architecture and other construction disciplines are being used to promote an apartheid system of environmental control." More...