US Jewish groups to Trump: Stop Netanyahu from annexing parts of Judea, Samaria

On Friday, U.S. Jewish groups called on Trump to stick to the two-state solution despite Netanyahu’s election promises to annex parts of Judea and Samaria.

By David Isaac, World Israel News

Nine American Jewish groups sent U.S. President Donald Trump a letter, which was released on Friday, asking him to reaffirm America’s commitment to a two-state solution, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports.

Signatories to the letter include the Central Conference of American Rabbis, Union for Reform Judaism, the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, The Rabbinical Assembly,  MERCAZ, the Anti-Defamation League, Ameinu, the National Council of Jewish Women, and the Israel Policy Forum.

According to JTA, “The letter is unusual, if not unprecedented, in mainstream Jewish groups pleading with a US president to take steps to restrain an Israeli prime minister.”

The letter comes in response to a campaign pledge by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prior to Israel’s elections last Tuesday that he would extend Israel sovereignty to Jewish areas in Judea and Samaria.

“We believe that it will lead to greater conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, severely undermine, if not entirely eradicate, the successful security coordination between the State of Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and galvanize efforts such as the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement that are intended to isolate and delegitimize Israel,” the letter said.

“West Bank annexation is a topic that is currently being debated in Israel, and was endorsed right before the election by Prime Minister Netanyahu himself as an electoral pledge,” the letter said.

“We respectfully request that you affirm long-standing bipartisan consensus that the two-state solution is the essential path to an Israel existing alongside a future state of Palestine in peace and security and that you declare that the United States will not support any Israeli proposals to annex the West Bank, in whole or in part,” the letter said.

Jewish Democrats chime in

Also on Friday, four pro-Israel Jewish Democrats released a similar letter. Signed by Reps. Eliot Engel and Nita Lowey of New York, Ted Deutch, (D-Fla.) and Brad Schneider, (D-Ill.), the letter was not addressed to the president but instead urged Israel not to annex parts of Judea and Samaria, saying it would endanger the two-state solution.

According to the JTA, “The statement signaled a warning from the party’s most pro-Israel wing that retreating from the two-state solution would be catastrophic for efforts to maintain close ties between Democrats and Israel.”

“As strong, life-long supporters of Israel, a U.S.-Israel relationship rooted in our shared values, and the two-state solution, we are greatly concerned by the possibility of Israel taking unilateral steps to annex the West Bank,” the letter read.

It appears that the Trump administration is unlikely to accede to either letter. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told CNN interviewer Jake Tapper on Friday that the the administration’s Middle East peace plan would not be negatively impacted by Prime Minister Netanyahu’s campaign pledge to declare Israeli sovereignty over Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.