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In New Policy Statement, Reaction to Netanyahu Speech: Reform Jewish Movement Offers Renewed Support for Middle East Peace Process

Media contact: Kate Bigam
(202) 387-2800 | news@rac.org

NEW ORLEANS, JUNE 15 – The Union for Reform Judaism has renewed its support for a Middle East Peace Process based on a two-state solution, both in a new policy resolution adopted by its Board of Trustees Saturday night and in comments by its President, Rabbi Eric Yoffie, reacting to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s policy address Sunday afternoon. 

The resolution was adopted at a Board of Trustees meeting in New Orleans on Saturday evening and speaks clearly to Hamas, the Palestinian Authority, the Israeli Government, the U.S. Administration and the government of Canada about the pressing need for peace. The full text of the resolution is available online at http://www.urj.org/resolutions.

Though the resolution was passed before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech yesterday afternoon, URJ President Rabbi Eric Yoffie reacted to the speech, saying:

“The Prime Minister’s speech today was an important, and welcome, contribution to the current discussion of how to move the stagnant peace process forward.  His explicit call for “immediate negotiation,” his endorsement of a demilitarized Palestinian state, and his statement that a “strong Palestinian economy will strengthen peace,” can form the basis of a new beginning for Israel and the Palestinians. 

“Further, the Prime Minister is correct in reiterating the seriousness of the threats posed by Iran.  The reelection of Ahmadinejad reaffirms the need for the United States, Israel and the broader international community to address those threats.

“The issue of freezing settlements remains critical, of course, and the exact nature of a demilitarized Palestinian State must be defined.  Nonetheless, we agree with the Prime Minister that the U.S. role will be of great importance, and we urge the Obama Administration to continue its active engagement.

“Whether the policies we prescribe to advance America’s interests, and to support the peace process we believe is indispensible to Israel’s long term security and wellbeing, concur with those of this Israeli government or not, we stand in abiding solidarity with the people and the state of Israel at this challenging time.”

In the newly passed resolution, the Reform Jewish Movement calls on Hamas to “renounce terrorism, halt all rocket fire into Israel, accept prior agreements, recognize the State of Israel, and release Gilad Shalit, who this month marks his third year in Hamas captivity.” It says that the Palestinian Authority must “fulfill its prior commitments, including making all possible efforts to bring about an end to violence and incitement, and to continue its cooperation with Israeli security forces and American advisors to create viable Palestinian security forces.”

The resolution “support[s] the calls by the United States government … 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.”  It also calls on the Government of Israel to “take firm and consistent action against those fringe settler groups who challenged the authority and legitimacy of the Israeli government and courts.”

Addressing the American and Canadian Governments,  the Reform Movement “applaud[s] and support[s] President Obama and his Administration for clear statement in his Cairo speech to the Muslim world of the unbreakable bonds between the United States and Israel, their unyielding commitment to Israel’s security and an honest and constructive partnership, and their early, determined, and strong leadership to help achieve Israeli-Palestinian and Israeli-Arab peace, with two states, Israel and Palestine, living side-by-side in peace and security.”  The resolution also “applaud[s] the government of Canada for its outspoken, consistent and forceful support for Israel and the goal of a two state solution.”

The Reform Movement also “encourage[s] the Obama administration to act as a catalyst, not imposing a solution, but rather engaging vigorously to ensure the best chances for a real and lasting peace with long-term cooperation and stability while working with its close ally and neighbor, Canada, in advancing the cause of peace.” The organization commits itself to “provide whatever support we can to the U.S. Administration, Canadian government and others as they engage in the intensive and sustained diplomatic efforts necessary to move beyond the untenable status quo.”

Finally, and significantly, addressing the danger of a nuclear Iran, the Reform Movement reaffirmed its call upon the governments of the United States and Canada “to continue using diplomacy and economic sanctions, including limits on Iran’s ability to import and produce refined petroleum products, to address the threat posed by Iran’s uranium enrichment, lack of cooperation with international inspectors, and support for terrorist proxies.”

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The Union for Reform Judaism is the synagogue arm of Reform Judaism in North America, representing 1.5 million Reform Jews in more than 920 congregations across the United States and Canada. Union programs and services include youth camps, music and book publishing, adult education opportunities, Outreach to unaffiliated and intermarried Jews, and the Religious Action Center in Washington, DC.



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