Left-wing US Jewish leaders plead with Gantz to oppose annexation of Judea and Samaria

The letters come while the leaders of the Blue and White party are negotiating with the Likud over the formation of a unity government.

By Josh Plank, World Israel News

Over 130 American Jewish leaders signed a letter on Monday to Blue and White leaders Benny Gantz and Gabi Ashkenazi, urging them to remain steadfast in their “opposition to unilateral West Bank annexation.”

The letter was authored by the Israel Policy Forum, an organization that works “to shape the discourse and mobilize support among American Jewish leaders and U.S. policymakers for the realization of a viable two-state solution.”

Signatories include Rabbis Rick Jacobs, head of the Union for Reform Judaism, and David Saperstein, who served as ambassador for International Religious Freedom in the Obama administration.

The group vehemently opposes Israeli sovereignty over Judea and Samaria and instead advocates for a policy of “territorial withdrawal, halting settlement activity, and concessions.”

“We write to you as American Jewish communal leaders who are proudly Zionist, unquestionably pro-Israel, and who have devoted our lives to supporting the State of Israel,” the letter says.

“In the midst of this unprecedented health and financial crisis for Israel, we respectfully urge you not to use the need for unity in the face of emergency to create a different crisis for Israel by moving forward on unilateral annexation,” they said.

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The letter also warned, “Should annexation be advanced, American Jews – the majority of whom oppose such a policy – will feel more alienated from Israel as a result.”

On Sunday, Commanders for Israel’s Security, a group composed of former Israeli security personnel, also sent a letter to Gantz and Ashkenazi, Arutz 7 reports.

The organization advocates for an agreement with Palestinian Arabs based on the principle of “two states for two peoples.”

Calling the coronavirus outbreak “one of the most severe crises since the establishment of the State of Israel,” the letter continues, “We call attention to another, equally potentially ominous development: unilateral annexation.”

They warn, “Do not proceed with unilateral annexation (of settlements, settlement blocs, or the Jordan Valley), for Israel will have no control over the ensuing chain reaction.”

The letters come while the leaders of the Blue and White party are negotiating with the Likud over the formation of a unity government.

It was thought the two sides were close to an agreement, with the Likud conceding on the selection of judges to the High Court, and Blue and White conceding on the issue of sovereignty in Judea and Samaria.

Talks broke down Monday as the Likud reversed its position, seeking to renegotiate the issue of the Judicial Selection Committee.

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Prime Minister Netanyahu never called for the annexation of the entire West Bank. Rather, President Donald Trump’s deal of the century, supported by Netanyahu, affords Israel the chance to extend sovereignty over more than 30 percent of Judea and Samaria.

Roughly 71% of the Jews in Judea and Samaria live in five settlement “blocs,” four of which are near the 1967 border,” explains Jewish Virtual Library. “Most Israelis believe these blocs should become part of Israel when final borders are drawn,” the site continues, in contrast to the Israel Policy Forum letter.