Reuters - United Methodist Church officials on
Thursday put aside a proposal that called for the church to
divest some of its holdings in companies profiting from
Israel's West Bank occupation.
The proposed measure called on the 8 million-member church — the third-largest U.S. denomination — to divest any holdings it had in Caterpillar Inc. by January 1.
The Peoria, Illinois, heavy equipment manufacturer sells bulldozers that the Israeli Army has used to demolish buildings in occupied territories.
About $5 million of the church's $17 billion pension portfolio is invested in Caterpillar, according to the church.
The Methodist General Board of Church & Society said it would not present the measure at the church's quadrennial policy-setting General Conference next week in Texas because the dialogue it already sparked with Caterpillar had produced positive results.
The church and society board said "Caterpillar has opened discussions with the board, issued a statement denouncing immoral use of its equipment, and has agreed to continued dialogue," the board said in a statement.
It said face-to-face discussions beginning in January between the board and Caterpillar executives, including chief executive James Owens, resulted in the company condemning "illegal or immoral use of any Caterpillar equipment."
Owens is a member of the church.
That action came "in light of its stated expectations that customers will use its products in an environmentally responsible manner and consistent with international humanitarian law and norms," the board said.
RLCC Comment: Have they agreed not to sell any more to them? Have they agreed not to provide replacement parts? Have they given the profits from the sales to the Palestinian orphans and homeless?
, obtained via: , April 17, 2008, 2:37pm