Board of Deputies refuses to bow to demands to condemn proposed annexation

President says she will issue clarification of its stance this week


The Board of Deputies will “reiterate” its policy of support for a two state solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians after rejecting demands that it issues a statement condemning proposed annexation of the West Bank by the Israeli government.

Board president Marie van der Zyl told an online meeting of Hampstead Synagogue members she believed her organisation “should be a safe and tolerant space where people can put forward their views even if we disagree”.

The Board’s position, she said, is that it is “a matter for the Israelis and the Palestinians'' to negotiate borders in any future settlement agreement.

She added: “We want to stand by Israel. But if you are talking in terms of Mr Netanyahu - we are a non-political organisation.”

“We don't take sides in Israeli politics and we don't take sides in British politics.”

Mrs van der Zyl said the Board would be issuing a clarification to stakeholders later this week on their stance over this and other issues involving the Israeli government.

But she said she welcomed receiving letters and petitions expressing a variety of views on the Israeli government's plans for the Jordan Valley region of the West Bank.

Addressing shul members via Zoom and YouTube on Tuesday evening, Mrs van der Zyl said: “It's something where the community has different views - but we are going to continue to affirm the importance of a negotiated two-state solution.”

She added: “There really is a high degree of unity across the community about the importance of Israel to our Jewish identities. People from different perspectives are variously calling on us to either support or oppose annexation. Our view is with the community so divided, the best we can do is try to hold the community together.”

Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday declared an end to security cooperation with Israel and the United States, citing the imminent threat of Israeli annexation.

The PA president has threatened to stop such cooperation several times before and it was unclear what his declaration would mean in practice.

Hampstead's Synagogue's online Where Are We Now? broadcast attracted a large audience. JC editor Stephen Pollard is a speaker in the same series of discussions on how Covid-19 is imapcting one the community on June 4th at 8pm. 

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