The Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EIAG) of the Church of England has ignored the recent Synod vote in favour of disinvestment from companies “profiting from the illegal occupation” of Palestine by refusing to recommend disinvestment from the controversial U.S. giant Caterpillar.
Members of the Church of England voted at last month’s General Synod in favour of urging Christians in the Middle East “to disinvest from companies profiting from the illegal occupation” of Palestine.
In a statement released Tuesday, the EIAG disclosed the results of a recent specially convened meeting on the Synod vote where EIAG members reaffirmed their September 2005 position not to disinvest in Caterpillar, reports Ekklesia.
John Reynolds, chair of the EIAG, said: “The EIAG recognises that the particular topic debated by Synod is hugely contentious, and EIAG members, like other Christians, have different perceptions of the situation in the Middle East. The Group in general, and its officers in particular, have spent an unusually large amount of time in engagement with Caterpillar and with the various groups representing Palestinian and Israeli, Jewish and Christian opinion seeking to influence its decision.
“The EIAG also well recognises that others will also have spent a great deal of time on this matter and acquired a great deal of knowledge about the situation. For that reason, and as a body which gives account to the General Synod, the EIAG took the resolution very seriously, and at its special meeting considered all the points made in the debate and gave particular weight to the letter it had received from the Bishop in Jerusalem, as well as the one which was quoted in the debate.”
The EIAG, responsible for giving ethical investment advice to the Church’s three investing bodies (the Church Commissioners, the Central Board of Finance and the Pensions Board), was urged by Synod to hold intensive discussions with Caterpillar, “with a view to its withdrawing from supplying or maintaining either equipment or parts for use by the state of Israel in demolishing Palestinian homes”.
Synod also said EIAG should keep in consideration the “illegality under international law” of the activities that Caterpillar machinery was implicated in, adding that EIAG reconsider its recommendations.
Machine giant Caterpillar was highlighted in a recent War on Want report on the company which detailed how its machinery had been used to destroy thousands of Palestinian homes and agricultural land. Caterpillar bulldozers were also used to construct Israel’s illegal Separation Wall.
Caterpillar maintains that it has no control over how its equipment is used after it is sold and that its earth movers were sold to the U.S. military who then took the step of selling them on to Israel.
The Church of England currently invests about £2.5 million of its £900 million share portfolio in Caterpillar.
Mr Reynolds said: “The EIAG reports regularly to the General Synod, and is gratified by what it sees as the rising level of interest in our work, and in particular by the wish of the General Synod to debate our report and the specific recommendations we make. We fully recognise that sometimes that interest will be critical, and lead to proposals that the EIAG reconsiders recommendations it has made.”