LONDON (JTA) — A pro-Palestinian group is claiming that the Church of England’s decision to divest from Caterpillar was on ethical rather than financial grounds.
The Church is insising that its decision late last year to withdraw its nearly $3.3 million investment in the American company was based only on financial considerations.
The Palestine Solidarity Campaign says the Church "clarified their position on their investments in companies profiting from the illegally occupied Palestinian territories and now wish to make clear that late last year they removed [nearly $3.3 million] in Caterpillar, a company whose bulldozers and heavy plant equipment are being used to destroy the homes of Palestinians by the Israeli government.”
A Church spokesman told JTA that “the decision to sell the shares in Caterpillar was not on political grounds whatsoever.” He added that there was never a vote in favor of divesting from Caterpillar, and explained that the Church’s Ethics Committee had looked into the issue twice and in both cases did not recommend divesting from Caterpillar.
Betty Hunter, general secretary of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said the divestiture "is a significant blow to those who say that ethical and morally responsible investments can’t be used as a peaceful weapon against the Israeli government.”
The group War on Want joined the Palestine Solidarity Campaign in claiming that the Church’s move is in effect a boycott of a company involved with Israel.