B019 Impact Investing for Palestine

Original version

Resolved, the House of _______ concurring, That the 79th General Convention
affirms impact investment as a necessary means to create a sound economy and a sustainable
infrastructure in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip because without these measures there can and will be no viable Palestinian state and no enduring peace; and be it further
Resolved, That impact investing as a strategy for a just and sustained peace in Israel and
Palestine is faithful to The Episcopal Church’s preference for a policy of engagement with both
parties, rather than punitive methods towards one or the other; and be it further
Resolved, That, as a component of this Church’s support for impact investing in the Palestinian
territories, the General Convention directs the Economic Justice Loan Committee to consider an investment of at least $500,000 to strengthen the economic infrastructure of the Palestinian
territories.

Explanation

While a political solution with the Israelis is necessary for the creation of an independent sovereign Palestinian State, the creation of a Palestinian State without sufficient nation building efforts will not be sustainable. Nation building efforts and a strong economy and infrastructure are prerequisites for Sustainable Peace and Stability.
The history of South Sudan is instructive. After more than two decades of war, South Sudan won independence from Sudan in 2011 following a referendum. The world's newest country, it relies on oil to survive, but inherited a shattered and neglected infrastructure. But since then South Sudan has been mired in war, chaos and a collapsing economy with 7 million people facing hunger and over 1 million South Sudanese on the brink of starvation. More than a million South Sudanese citizens have fled the country and are filling overcrowded refugee camps in surrounding nations. It’s one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world. Sovereignty and political independence alone is not the answer for Palestine.
In response to a “Positive investment” resolution passed at the 2012 General Convention, The Episcopal Church purchased a three-year certificate of deposit for $500,000 in the Bank of Palestine. While well-intentioned, this was not an impact investment. An investment, like a loan to a bank, without a strong and focused attempt to make real social impact will not help. Merely lending money to a bank will not build a country capable of sustaining
itself.
Impact investments are investments made into companies, organizations, and funds with the intention to generate social and environmental impact alongside a financial return. This is taking place all over the world, and across all asset classes. Impact investing in Palestine would mean investing in specific Palestinian projects and ventures which would promote the development of a sound and functional Palestinian infrastructure and economy and/or promote peace and stability between Israelis and Palestinians through economic development.
There are many impact investment opportunities in Palestine, especially on the West Bank. One example is Sadara Ventures, a niche venture capital fund in Ramallah which has a focus on early-stage Palestinian tech startups. Sadara’s investors include Cisco, the Google Foundation, the European Investment Fund and others. (https://www.sadaravc.com/) Such investments would increase the likelihood of a just peace agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and of equal importance, would greatly increase the likelihood of a successful Palestinian state, once an agreement is made. As Zahi Khouri, chairman of the National Beverage Company in Ramallah,
whose focus is on developing the Palestinian economy, has said : “If you have two equal partners with a similar standard of living, you’re very unlikely to have any conflict.”
(https://www.ft.com/content/557df01a-a9cb-11e7-ab66-21cc87a2edde).


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