The United Church of Canada (UCC), the country’s largest Protestant denomination, voted Wednesday in favor of a consumers' boycott of goods produced in Jewish settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, Canadian media reported.
According to the Toronto Star, Wednesday’s vote was preceded by nearly six hours of delibertions.
The report quoted Bruce Gregersen, a United Church general council spokesperson, as saying that the boycott was "a significant step."
The UCC's general council will vote Friday on whether to make a boycott a permanent part of church policy.
Canada's Jewish community was stunned to learn of the decision. The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs in Toronto issues a statement saying that it was "Outraged by the decision by the United Church of Canada to single out Israeli communities for boycott.
"The Centre is equally offended by the Church's expression of regret for previously calling for Palestinian recognition of Israel's Jewish character," the group said on its website.
"This decision represents a radical shift in the United Church's policies, betrays the views of the vast majority of its members, and flies in the face of decades of constructive interfaith dialogue.
"In choosing this morally reckless path, the United Church has equally dismissed the concerns of the overwhelming majority of the Canadian Jewish community."
David Koschitzky, Chairman of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, said: "No mainstream Jewish organization, including Canadian Friends of Peace Now, endorses Boycott. Even the leadership of the American left-wing group J-Street has publicly condemned boycotts as counterproductive.
"Support for the boycott tactic is limited to a small fringe. Tragically, the UCC chose to join that fringe, rather than listen to the nearly 100,000 families who are members of Jewish Federations across Canada, and on whose behalf the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs speaks.
"The Church equally ignored some 70 Canadian Rabbis of all streams and from every province, representing tens of thousands of Canadian Jewish families, who made their opposition known in writing," he said.
In declaring a boycott, the UCC has "Damaged the Church's standing amongst Canadians and have profoundly compromised the UCC's ability to play any constructive role in making a positive impact for peace," Koschitzky concluded.