Bishops pass 3 resolutions on peace in Gaza, Palestinian state, reject 4 other Middle East resolutions

By Logan Crews
Posted Jun 23, 2024

Pennsylvania Bishop Daniel Gutiérrez, chair of the Social Justice & International Policy Committee, presents his committee’s resolutions to the full House of Bishops on June 23, the 81st General Convention’s first official day. Photo: Randall A. Gornowich

[Episcopal News Service – Louisville, Kentucky] After hearty debate and three amendments, the House of Bishops passed Resolution D013, condemning both Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel and Israel’s retaliation against Hamas in Gaza. The resolution also asserts that peace can only come from a two-state solution to the conflict.

Los Angeles Bishop John Taylor, its author, explained the resolution was carefully crafted in consultation with the Office of Government Relations and progressive Jewish groups. The goal was to refocus the church’s advocacy on establishing a Palestinian state that exists side-by-side with Israel, while expressing “a degree of Anglican moderation and pragmatism” in such an extremely contested conflict.

In addition to Palestinian statehood, the resolution calls for an immediate ceasefire, the release of hostages and other captives and an increase of humanitarian aid to Gaza. It also calls upon the Washington, D.C.-based Office of Government Relations to advocate for Israel’s military aid to be dependent on “its participation in the peace process” and for sanctions against any nation that supports anti-Israel groups, including Hamas and Hezbollah.

Southeast Florida Bishop Peter Eaton proposed the first amendment to the resolution, striking a line that accused the current government in Israel of pursuing an apartheid policy against Palestinians. “I won’t pass any resolution with the word ‘apartheid,’” he said.

Another amendment proposed by former Upper South Carolina Bishop Andrew Waldo added that in addition to Israel showing disregard for civilian life, Hamas has been equally reckless. The final amendment changed the phrase “an act of anti-Jewish terror” to “an indefensible act of terrorism” in reference to Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack.

This resolution was the last of seven concerning Israel-Palestine. The House of Bishops passed two others: Resolution D009, which calls on the United States government to provide aid for the “long-term rebuilding of Gaza,” and Resolution D007, summarized by the title “Peace Through Equal Rights in Israel/Palestine.”

Resolutions defeated on the floor were:

  • Resolution A010, which would have recognized the state of Israel’s legal system as a system of apartheid.
  • Resolution D004, which sought to affirm Palestinian Arabs as Indigenous peoples of the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River.
  • Resolution D005, which expressed solidarity with the demands of the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
  • Resolution D006, which condemned the theology and politics of Christian Zionism.

Eaton spoke in opposition to each of the resolutions that failed, saying they extended the church’s reach too far by criticizing the state of Israel’s choices in its war on Gaza.

No bishops spoke in favor of any of the defeated resolutions, even for those that garnered yes votes.

Washington Bishop Mariann Budde spoke in support of Resolution D007, which passed with its calls for a ceasefire, humanitarian aid, release of all hostages and condemnation of Israel’s violence against Palestinians in the West Bank. She said that while previous resolutions were struck down, it doesn’t mean there aren’t bishops who care about the situation in Gaza and the West Bank. With so many factors packed into one resolution, a binary vote oversimplifies a complicated subject, but D007, she said, is different.

“If we can’t say this, what could we possibly say?” As Budde walked away from the mic, applause erupted from the visitor seats. Curry asked the hall to refrain from applauding either side as a matter of courtesy.

Bishops also considered postponing further debate on D007. While some bishops said they needed more time to reflect, Arizona Bishop Jennifer Reddall said postponing to later in the week wouldn’t change the outcome.

“Every person in this room has been talking and thinking about this since Oct. 7,” Reddall said. “They can speak just as clearly today as they could the next day.”

The three resolutions that passed now move to the House of Deputies.

–Logan Crews, a former Episcopal Church Ecojustice Fellow, is a seminarian at Berkeley Divinity School at Yale who serves on the student leadership team of the World Student Christian Federation-United States.