United Church of Christ passes resolution denouncing Israel for allegedly mistreating Palestinian children

Palestinian school boys stand in front of a wall damaged by bullets during a clash between Palestinian security and gunmen, in Balata refugee camp near the West Bank city of Nablus November 1, 2016. | Reuters/Abed Omar Qusini

The United Church of Christ (UCC) has overwhelmingly voted in favor of a resolution that denounces Israel for its alleged mistreatment of underage Palestinians.

The resolution, which accuses Israel of defying international conventions in its treatment of Palestinian children who go through its military courts, was passed by the church's General Synod in Baltimore on Sunday.

"Languishing through generations of trauma under Israeli military rule which just marked its 50th year, Palestinian children in the occupied West Bank are subject to Israeli military law which fails to ensure and, in fact, denies basic and fundamental rights," the UCC Palestine/Israel Network, said in a statement, as reported by Religion News Service.

The UCC Palestine/Israel Network, which drafted the document, worked with many allies and interfaith partners, according to the church.

The resolution called on Israel to "exercise an absolute prohibition against torture and ill-treatment of detained children." It also urged the U.S. government to withhold military assistance from Israel for the alleged abuses against young Palestinians.

The abuses cited in the document include the detainment Palestinian children in Israeli prisons, strip searches, verbal abuse, physical violence, intimidation, solitary confinement, and interrogation of the minors without a lawyer or parent present, according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

The General Synod voted 79 percent in favor of the resolution, with nine percent abstentions and 13 percent opposed.

The American Jewish Committee (AJC), a national Jewish civil rights group, condemned the resolution, calling it "deeply disappointing."

"The UCC resolution ignores the facts that Palestinian leaders continue to support violence against Israelis, regularly demonize Israel, and encourage children through textbooks and paramilitary camps toward violence against Israelis," Rabbi Noam Marans, the AJC's director of interreligious and intergroup relations, said in a statement.

"Tellingly, the resolution fails to recognize Israel's right to defend itself against Palestinian terrorism and incitement of their children," the rabbi continued.

Sunday's vote comes two years after the UCC approved a resolution calling for divestment of companies that profit from Israel's control of the West Bank, as well as a boycott of products from Israeli settlements.

The UCC, which has about one million members nationwide, also voted on another resolution to declare Israel's relation to the Palestinians as apartheid during the last Synod. A slight majority voted in favor of the resolution, but it failed to garner the two-thirds vote needed to pass.