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URJ Raps Israel Settlement Plan, Palestinian U.N. Move

The Union for Reform Judaism criticized Israel for its decision to build new settlement housing and the Palestinians for unilaterally seeking upgraded status at the United Nations.

The newly adopted policy statement was adopted overwhelmingly on Sunday following a debate at the group’s board of trustees meeting in St. Petersburg, Fla. More than 200 board members of URJ’s Central Conference of American Rabbis and its Zionist wing ARZA attended the meeting.

The resolution condemned the Palestinian Authority “for the unilateral decision to seek upgraded status at the United Nation as counterproductive to the cause of peace ” and expressed “deep concern to those countries that supported the upgraded status, and to those who abstained.” The U.N. General Assembly voted last week to give the Palestinians non-member state observer status.

On Israel’s plan to build in the E1 corridor between Jerusalem and the major Jewish settlement of Maale Adumim, the resolution said it “would split the Ramallah region off from Bethlehem, effectively cutting the West Bank in two and making a contiguous Palestinian state virtually impossible.” It further said, “Building there makes progress toward peace far more challenging, and is difficult to reconcile with the Government of Israel’s stated commitment to a two-state solution.”

The resolution also calls on the Palestinians “to return to the negotiating table immediately without preconditions, as Israel has committed to doing,” and supports “appropriate measures if the Palestinians use their new status at the U.N. to initiate formal action against Israel via the International Criminal Court or other agency.”

It also opposes actions taken as a result of the U.N. vote “that would undercut the prospects for renewing the peace process leading to a two-state solution,” such as reducing financial support to the United Nations or the Palestinian Authority or reducing the currently recognized Palestinian diplomatic presence.

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