RAMALLAH, March 6 (JMCC) - The University of Vermont in the United States has been asked to review a proposal to divest from companies that benefit from Israel's occupation.
If passed, the proposal would make the university the first US institution of higher education to divest on behalf of Palestinians, reports the
Burlington Free Press.
The proposal calls for the university to withdraw endowment funds from all companies contractually involved in, and directly profiting from, the occupation of Palestine. Palestine is defined as land that includes the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. The companies in question would be those that supply products or services to the Israeli military or to Israeli settlements in the territories.
Drafted by emeritus research professor Ian Stokes and endorsed by UVM Students for Justice in Palestine, the proposal will be the subject of a March 17 public forum sponsored by UVM's Socially Responsible Investing Work Group. That group -- comprising trustees, faculty, students and staff -- handles the initial screening of all formal recommendations for tailoring UVM investments to social and ethical concerns.
To succeed, the proposal must undergo a lengthy review process. The last divestment proposal to survive this review was in 2009, when the University of Vermont stopped investing in companies that distribute or produce cluster bombs or depleted uranium.
Most US colleges and universities maintain an investment portfolio for their endowments, which can reach hundreds of millions of dollars.
Divestment from companies working in apartheid South Africa was one means of international pressure that was used to end the racially-discriminatory system in the African country.