NEW YORK — Left-wing American Jewish advocacy groups published an open letter Monday signed by more than 400 American Jewish rabbis, cantors and rabbinical and cantorial students protesting last month’s decision by the Netanyahu government to expand building in the E1 zone between Jerusalem and Maaleh Adumim.
In the letter, the signatories warned that the move “would be the final blow to a peaceful solution. If Israel builds in E1, it will cut East Jerusalem off from its West Bank surroundings and effectively bifurcate the West Bank. In doing so, E1 will literally represent an obstacle to a two-state solution.”
The letter worries that “the current situation in the occupied territories violates Palestinian human rights and undercuts the very values on which Israel was founded — democracy, liberty, justice, and peace.”
The signatories insist they support Israel.
“We and our communities have worked hard to build bipartisan support for Israel. We have raised millions of dollars to develop the State of Israel and its civil society. And we have vigorously opposed efforts to delegitimize the Jewish State,” the letter reads.
The letter also protested the approval of thousands of new housing units in East Jerusalem.
The Israeli government’s approval of the new housing was announced the day after the Palestinian Authority sought and won a vote in the UN General Assembly upgrading its status from “observer entity” to “nonmember observer state,” the same status enjoyed by the Vatican and which is seen by some international law experts as conferring a limited statehood recognition on the Palestinian Authority.
The vote was carried by a large majority of 138 to 9, with 41 abstentions. Israel and the US have denounced the move as an attempt to avoid direct negotiations with Israel over final-status issues such as refugees and Jerusalem.
“Construction in E1 would violate repeated commitments that Israeli governments have made to the United States since 1994 not to build there,” according to J Street spokesperson Jessica Rosenblum.
A J Street statement noted that the letter “has been signed by more than 400 rabbis from 38 states and the District of Columbia. The majority of the signers are congregational leaders.”
The letter was coordinated by Americans for Peace Now, J Street and Rabbis for Human Rights-North America.