Church of England divests over £2.2 million from Caterpillar
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Church of England divests over £2.2 million from Caterpillar

The Church of England has clarified their position on their investments in companies profiting from and supporting the ongoing occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, clarifying that late last year they removed over £2.2 million from Caterpillar, a company whose bulldozers and heavy plant equipment are used to destroy the homes of Palestinians and construct the Wall.

News of the church’s divestment appeared late on 7 February and prevented the publication of a letter in the Guardian signed by 23 theologians accusing the Church of England of not acting on its policy to promote morally and ethically responsible investments.

In 2005 the Anglican Consultative Council voted to divest from companies supporting the occupation. The Church of England’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group was charged with investigating whether or not investment in Caterpillar was inconsistent with the Church’s ethical investment policy, which prohibits investment in arms companies or companies making ‘weapons platforms’ such as naval vessels or tanks. The advisory group issued a report focusing on the use of Caterpillar equipment in operations and actions illegal under the Geneva Convention, and in 2006 the church’s most senior decision-making body, the General Synod, voted to divest from “companies profiting from the illegal occupation [of Palestine].” However, it was unclear if divestment had taken place.

More churches and faith-based organizations have been joining the BDS movement. In 2004 the Presbyterian Church (USA) decided to begin a process of divestment from companies like Caterpillar. The United Methodist Church initiated similar action in 2005.