Union of Reform Judaism Supports Settlement Freeze
There’s been a concerted effort under way to portray Barack Obama’s approach to the Middle East as badly out of step with Jewish opinion, and those Jews who support him as somehow marginal. I think the resolution adopted today by the Union of Reform Judaism should go a long way toward debunking that. The text isn’t exactly what I would say, but on all the core points they’re supporting the administration’s policies. Notable excerpts:
The new Israeli government has been reluctant to commit to the two-state solution and the settlement freeze embodied in the Roadmap and reaffirmed at the Annapolis Conference. The Israeli Interior Minister announced on June 3rd, 2009 that he will move to expand settlements in the West Bank. The destructive impact of the settlements is aggravated by fringe settler groups that have expanded their lawless reach into newoutposts and hilltops, challenged the authority and legitimacy of the Israeli government and courts, encouraged insubordination by Israeli soldiers tasked with enforcing the law and keeping the peace, and escalated violence against Palestinian civilians. [...]
Although we are mindful that it is still quite early in the Obama Administration, the first months suggest that it can provide the type of creative, determined and sustained leadership that is necessary to help the parties move forward. The President and his national security team have pledged to make the pursuit of Israeli-Palestinian peace a priority and have begun taking encouraging steps and actions to achieve it, including appointing Special Envoy George Mitchell and training a new and professional Palestinian Authority security force that can defend Israelis and Palestinians against extremist violence. The greatest contribution the United States can make in friendship and support of Israel’s future is to help create the conditions that will ensure a lasting peace, by, among other important steps, supporting efforts to strengthen economic, social and security infrastructure necessary for a stable and visionary Palestinian leadership capable of working with Israel to establish peace. [...]
Although Israel may need to retain some areas technically classified as settlements, the failure of the Israeli government to meet its commitments regarding the removal of unauthorized settler outposts and the halting of settlement growth are sources of concern. The settlement controversy is exacerbated by the exceedingly high current 4.9% population growth rate in West Bank settlements. Indeed, the population has grown from 100,000 in 1993 to nearly 300,000 at the end of 2008 according to the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics. We are concerned as well with the establishment of some 100 unauthorized outposts since 1996.
They reach the following specific conclusion:
Support the calls by the United States government, in the spirit of prior URJ Resolutions (1978, 1983, 2001, 2004 and 2007), for the government of Israel to freeze all settlement construction and immediately dismantle illegal outposts, not only to fulfill its prior commitments, but also to do so as the politically wise and morally right action that enhances Israel’s efforts to preserve a secure future for Israel as a Jewish and democratic state;
There you have it.