Delegation of Reform leaders tell PM of their concerns about Israeli policy after praising Abbas
A delegation from the Union for Reform Judaism had a “wide-ranging and candid conversation” with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, the group said.
The delegation, led by the URJ’s president, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, met with Netanyahu for an hour on Sunday, according to a statement issued by the congregational arm of the movement at the end of a weeklong leadership mission to Israel.
During a discussion of issues of religious pluralism in Israel, Netanyahu told the delegation that he had appointed government minister Tzachi Hanegbi, who attended the meeting, to help resolve issues between the haredi Orthodox parties and the Reform movement and other liberal groups to allow the plan for egalitarian prayer at Robinson’s Arch at the Western Wall to go forward.
The delegation, which met Thursday in Ramallah with Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas, stressed its support for the two-state solution as it had during its meeting with Abbas. It also discussed “concerns about the expansion of settlements,” the statement said.
The Reform leaders also expressed “concern about maintaining a bipartisan American consensus in support of a strong U.S.-Israel relationship.”
The statement said that Netanyahu and his staff reviewed the threats to Israel’s security and emphasized that the Iranian nuclear threat remains by far the most significant danger.
The Reform leaders had praised Abbas' commitment to peace after their meeting with him.
“I was impressed with [Abbas'] clear and unequivocal commitment to the two-state solution,” Jacobs said following his meeting with the PA chairman. “He clearly is frustrated with the lack of progress, or even the existence of ongoing negotiations. I share that frustration.”
The Liba Center, an Israeli NGO "dedicated to strengthening the Jewish character of the State of Israel," called on the Prime Minister not to give into the demands of the Reform delegation last week, and accused URJ president Rick Jacobs of siding with Israel's enemies.
The Liba Center stated that: "What was once the domain of anti-Israel and radical leftist elements has become the normal position and policy of the Reform Movement. With regards to their meeting with the Prime Minister tomorrow, we wish to strengthen the position of the Prime Minister against this organization on behalf of the State of Israel, so that he will not be dictated to by those who act against the State of Israel and threaten it in order to force it to change its character."
By: A7 Staff