Board of Deputies candidates debate two-state solution

Contenders for presidents are asked whether they would continue support for two states


Bidding for glory: Board presidential candidates (from left) Phil Rosenberg, Sheila Gewolb, Michael Ziff, Amanda Bowman

The candidates to be the next president of the Board of Deputies have largely backed its support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

At hustings in Manchester last week, they were pressed by a member of the audience over whether the idea was still viable.

Former Board senior vice-president Sheila Gewolb, noting the British government’s support for it, responded, “Things may change but at this moment in time, the Board and, as president, I would continue to support a two-state solution.”

Current vice-president Amanda Bowman said that deputies had debated support for a two-state solution four years ago and this remained its policy.

“It feels like it’s a distant goal — the north star we should be aiming for and until and unless there’s a better solution, it’s the two-state solution for me,” she added.

Former Board public affairs director Phil Rosenberg said: “We have all heard the criticisms and concerns about the viability of the two-state solution” but added, “I think until I and the deputies are persuaded there is a better solution, the two-state solution is the one to back.”

He said even if that looked “somewhat distant”, he believed there was “more we could be doing” in expanding the Abraham Accords, pointing out he had visited all the Accord countries and had personal relationships with their ambassadors here.

Board treasurer Michael Ziff, striking a more cautious note, said: “We need two people, two sides to agree a two-state solution.We haven’t got that at this moment in time and until that happens, it’s a dream.”

The Board would continue to debate the issue but he stressed: “We have to support Israel… We are the Board of Deputies of British Jews and that is the important thing here. We need to support Israel as to what Israel wants to do.”

As the Israel-Hamas war has raged, several countries have called for a return to negotiations that will lead to the creation of a Palestinian state — but in January Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted that such a state would be “contrary” to Israel’s security interests.

Further hustings are scheduled to take place in London ahead of the May 12 election to find a successor to Marie van der Zyl, who steps down after a maximum two terms in office.

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