Finance and IT News: Church urged to withdraw funds

The Anglican Consultative Council last week voted to recommend disinvestment in companies supporting Israel's occupation of Palestinian land.

But the unanimous vote, which Anglican churches across the world will be asked to adopt as policy, is unlikely to affect the investment stance of the Church of England.

The resolution from the Anglican Peace and Justice Network urges churches to "take appropriate action where it finds that its corporate investments support the occupation of Palestinian lands or violence against innocent Israelis".

The move has been condemned by the Israeli government and the Board of Deputies of British Jews.

But a spokesman for the Church of England said the effect of the resolution on the Church's ethical investment policy would be "virtually nothing".

The only company the Church of England invests in that could come within the scope of the resolution is the US firm Caterpillar.

The Church of England's Ethical Investment Advisory Group has already conducted a review of its £197,000 investment in Caterpillar. This followed claims that the use of the company's bulldozers by the Israeli army to demolish Palestinian homes contravened the Church's ban on armaments investments because they were being used as weapons. Although the review concluded Caterpillar did not constitute an armaments company, an ongoing "due process of engagement" with the company was initiated.

The Methodist Church of Great Britain is also debating whether to withdraw investment from companies that support the occupation.

Charity consultant and former WWF finance director Les Jones said the Church of England's deliberations over the issue underlined the importance of a socially responsible approach to investment.

"This underlines that the Church and charities believe they can make a difference by making investment decisions that are compatible with their objectives and beliefs," he said.

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