Hundreds of community members have signed an open letter demanding the Board of Deputies condemn Israel’s plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank.
As of Monday, more than 560 people have put their names to the open letter, addressed to the Board of Deputies’ honorary officers.
Among the signatories, described in the letter as “British Jews who support Israel’s right to thrive as a Jewish and democratic state”, were 10 rabbis and the Labour peer Lord Jeremy Beecham.
The letter says: “The new Israeli government has committed to advancing unilateral annexation of West Bank territory which would be nothing short of an all-out assault on a negotiated agreement. No Palestinian negotiators would be involved in determining any future borders in the act of unilateral annexation.”
It warns that any failure to “defend the two-state solution against threats made to it by all parties to the conflict” will undermine the Board of Deputies and its “credibility and integrity.”
“The Board’s statements of support for a two-state solution are worth nothing if the Board fails to speak up against a unilateral moves of annexation,” it says.
It also “welcomes” another open letter strongly critical of the proposed annexation and signed by close to 500 Jewish students and youth groups last week. “We commend young members of our community for speaking up for Israel and the Jewish values we all treasure,” it said.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, one of the signatories told JN: “When Marie van der Zyl started her presidency well, many of us were full of hope and expectation.
“Unfortunately, she and the rest of the leadership appear now to be looking over their shoulders, fearful of a very vocal right wing Israel right or wrong minority.
“That’s a huge shame, and personally I hope Marie will change tack or the Board will fade into irrelevance.”
Marie van der Zyl, president of the Board of Deputies, called for unity amid what she said was “clearly a divisive time” during a plenary meeting earlier this month.
Israeli Ambassador Mark Regev suggested during the meeting that Israeli annexation of the West Bank would not extend to areas with large Palestinian populations.
The top diplomat also said it would be “only fair” that Palestinians living in towns annexed by Israel be offered full Israeli citizenship.
The Board of Deputies was approached for comment.
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