Britain’s main Jewish group asks election candidates to commit to Palestinian state

A British Zionist group opposes the inclusion of support for a Palestinian State in the Board of Deputies’ manifesto, as does Israel’s Likud party.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

In a controversial move, the Board of Deputies of British Jews is urging political candidates in the U.K.’s upcoming elections to support the creation of a Palestinian state.

The body is the main representative of British Jewry. It was established in 1760. As its website says, it’s “the first port of call for Government, the media and others seeking to understand the Jewish community’s interests and concerns.”

Its Jewish Manifesto contains 10 items that it would like potential U.K. policymakers to support, including opposing anti-Semitism, defending the right to a Jewish way of life, promoting Holocaust education, tackling poverty and supporting other socially sensitive issues.

Commitment No. 5, however, delves into international politics, as it asks candidates to “advocate for permanent and comprehensive solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that results in a secure Israel alongside a viable Palestinian state.”

The Zionist Federation of the U.K. and Ireland (ZF), a pro-Israel umbrella organization with over 50,000 affiliated members, took a different approach.

Its “Call to Action” didn’t endorse any particular solution, it merely asked candidates running in the December 12 election to sign a pledge “to support those who genuinely seek to promote and establish a permanent, just and comprehensive peace between Israel and its neighbours.”

In February, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that “a Palestinian state will endanger our existence.” He joined all the senior leaders in the governing Likud party who had already pledged their resistance to allowing such a state to be established.

Netanyahu’s current rival for Likud leadership, Gideon Sa’ar, explained their firm opposition to the idea in an interview with Israel Hayom just two days before the prime minister’s statement.

“I oppose a Palestinian state,” Sa’ar said. “In my eyes it’s a dangerous idea for the future of the Jewish nation in their own land. The left says that the creation of an Arab state will solve the demographic problem, but the opposite is true.

“A state means they control their borders, and that means the entry of a Palestinian and Islamic population, which will want to be at the forefront of the fight against the Zionist entity. So in essence, the entire Zionist enterprise which we’ve reached will be in reverse, because a Palestinian state will cause an Arab majority in Israel. And anyone who wants to prevent such a majority must oppose it.”