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Anglicans recommend divestment to pressure Israel

JERUSALEM -- Representatives of the Anglican Church who toured Israel and the West Bank this week are recommending that the church withdraw investments from Israel to pressure the country to ease the ''draconian conditions" imposed on the Palestinians, a church official said yesterday.

Twenty-nine church representatives toured the area. Those recommending ''divestment," or taking capital out of the country, include church leaders from the United States, Australia, and New Zealand, said Nancy Dinsmore, director of development for the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem.

Their recommendations will be made to a meeting next year in Wales of the Anglican Consultative Council, the church's ruling body.

According to Dinsmore, the Rev. Canon Brian Grieves of New York, the US Episcopal Church's peace and justice minister, believes divestment could help end the conflict. Many Palestinians and Arabs around the world support the idea of divestment, which was used against South Africa to help end apartheid.

The tour exposed the church leaders ''to the draconian conditions of the continuing occupation under which so many Palestinians live," the group said on its website.

The statement did not include a mention of divestment, since not all 29 leaders signing it support divestment as an option for their country's church, Dinsmore said.

Israeli officials were not available for comment.

Jenny Te Paa of New Zealand, who led the delegation, said the church had become increasingly sympathetic to the Palestinian cause recently, and the ruling council was likely to accept the idea of divestment.

The group toured the West Bank, meeting with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Palestinian church representatives. The group also met with an Israeli social activist and several Israeli Arabs, but no government officials.

Dinsmore said Israeli Foreign Ministry officials were unable to meet the delegation because of the Jewish holidays.

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