After days of criticism over its silence, the Board of Deputies has issued a statement about Israel’s controversial West Bank annexation plans — but says that it “does not in good faith support one view over the other”.
In a statement issued on Friday, the Board’s president, Marie van der Zyl, acknowledges the criticisms, saying that the Israeli proposals have “prompted impassioned opinions and lively debate amongst Jews in Israel and the diaspora alike”.
But, she says, “in the main, this is a Zionist community and Israel is of central importance to the identity of many of us”. She says that the issue is more nuanced than simply asking for the Board to support or oppose annexation. “The variation of opinion is even more nuanced than this”, Ms van der Zyl says, “and as the body responsible for representing this range, we do not in good faith support one view over another”.
The Board’s role, she says, is “to facilitate this debate from all sides. We also have to take into account that Israel – the only democracy in the Middle East – has an elected government which reflects the will of Israeli voters”.
Nevertheless, she says that the Board, “as ever, emphasise our continued belief in a negotiated two-state solution, leading to a secure Israel alongside a viable Palestinian state”.
It is unlikely that the president’s statement will see an end to debate among deputies and the wider community, calling for the Board to take a position for one side on the annexation issue.
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