The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) notes with great concern the statement of U.S. Congressman Robert Wexler (D-FL) claiming that Israel will agree to a freeze on Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria and eastern Jerusalem. The ZOA vigorously opposes any such step and urges Israel Prime Minister Netanyahu to categorically reject any freeze whatsoever on Jewish construction in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem. ZOA National President Morton A. Klein, Chairman of the Board Dr. Michael Goldblatt & Executive Director Gary Ratner have issued the following statement:
The ZOA believes that there are several major objections to Israel acceding to a freeze on Jewish construction in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem meaning not allowing any new additional Jews to live there.
“First, it would be a moral travesty to accept that people, simply because they are Jews, will not be allowed to move into Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem.
“Second, it would be a strategic error for Israel which will not lead to progress towards a real peace.
“Third, to agree to a construction freeze would lend credence to the utterly false notion that Jews living in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem pose an obstacle to a peace agreement with the Palestinians. This is nonsense: Palestinian Arab refusal to accept Israel as a Jewish state, to fight and end terrorism and to end the incitement to hatred and murder against her is the reason peace has not been achieved. We also must recall that there were no Jews in these territories when they were under illegal Jordanian occupation (1948-67), yet there was no peace and no Arab acceptance of Israel. To accede to this proposal for a freeze harms Israels just cause, harms Jews living in these territories and assists Palestinian and Arab propaganda efforts to distract focus from the real issue of Palestinian extremism and non-acceptance of Israel which are the root of the conflict.
“Fourth, to accede to a freeze on Jewish construction conveys a clear message on Israels part that it accepts the view that Jews have no right to live in these areas, the historical and religious heartland of the Jewish people. It lends credence to the view that Jews should be banned from living there. It lends credence to the false notion that peace can be built by making these territories judenrein.
Jewish growth in Judea and Samaria and eastern Jerusalem has a fundamental legitimacy and poses no obstacle to a true peace if Palestinians are ready for one, so the Obama Administrations insistence on a construction freeze would remain inappropriate even if the prospect of genuine peace negotiations with a truly peaceful Palestinian partner were possible.
Why cannot 300,000 Jews live among 1.5 million Palestinian Arabs in Judea and Samaria while 1.2 million Arabs live among 6 million Jews in Israel? No peace can be built on the notion that the biblical, historical and religious heartland of the Jewish people, or any territory for that matter, must be judenrein. Remember, Jews come from the historic known as Judea. We Jews are Judeans. Jews is a contraction of the term Judean. How absurd to suggest Jews cannot live from whence we came. Would anyone dare propose that Arabs cannot live in Arabia?
“There are a billion or more people throughout the world who are Bible believers who believe the many biblical statements from G-d giving the Land of Israel to the Jewish people. These statements appear throughout Genesis and Exodus. The reason this Land, throughout history, has been called the ‘Promised Land’ is precisely because G-d promised this Land to the Jews in the Bible. Even secular Jews maintain this connection to the Land on the basis of the Bible. It is notable that David Ben Gurion once stated to a British Royal Commission that the ‘Bible is our mandate.’ If it werent, perhaps a Jewish state would now exist in Uganda, or somewhere else, or not at all.
Fifth, Israel has made one-sided concession after one-sided concession for nearly 16 years. It is high time for the implementation of the next step: Palestinians fulfilling their commitments. Until the Palestinians fulfill their nearly 16-year old obligations under the Oslo agreements and 2003 Roadmap peace plan to arrest terrorists; dismantle terrorist groups; end the incitement to hatred and murder in the PA-controlled media, mosques, schools and youth camps that feeds terrorism and the conflict; place Israel in their maps and atlases; and rename the schools, sports teams and colleges named in honor of terrorists, there should be no Israeli rewards or concessions to the PA. By definition, such Israeli concessions would be unilateral concessions. It is clear that if Israel accedes to the Obama Administrations call for a freeze on Jewish construction in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem, it will be making just such a unilateral concession.
Such concessions not only fail to bring peace or moderate Palestinian extremism, hatred and demands, but they in fact heighten them. Can anyone point to Palestinian fulfillment of commitments in response to Israel having given up half of Judea and Samaria and all of Gaza to Palestinian control; releasing hundreds of jailed Palestinian terrorists; giving the PA money, assets and even arms; and removing checkpoints and roadblocks? Have any of these concessions induced the PA or Palestinians in general to accept Israels existence as a Jewish state, to reject terrorism, or to modify their demands? The answer is clearly no: the PA continues to insist it will not accept Israel as a Jewish state; Fatah, which controls the PA, admits it has never accepted Israel, nor has there been any end to terrorism and incitement. In short, we have seen this movie hundreds of times before.
If making all the aforementioned major concessions failed to bring peace, failed to moderate Palestinians and failed to induce Palestinians to take pro-peace, anti-terror actions which they promised, why would this proposed Israeli concession achieve any positive result? The evidence is in the opposite direction: that Palestinians would become, if anything, more extreme and intransigent. With pressure on Israel to concede and no pressure on the PA to fulfill commitments it has already signed, it is not surprising that Mahmoud Abbas said recently that, I will wait for Israel to freeze settlements Until then, in the West Bank we have a good reality . . . the people are living a normal life. Clearly, the PA leader feels under no compulsion to honor existing agreements, let alone to take any pro-peace steps. It should be an unshakable rule that Israel offer no rewards and concessions to the PA until and unless the PA fulfils its commitments under signed agreements, failing which peace cannot be achieved. Agreeing to a freeze on Jewish construction undermines such a policy.
It is utterly racist and anti-Semitic to insist that Jews cannot build within the borders of their own communities in Judea and Samaria, whereas Arabs can, including within Israel itself. Quite apart from Israels own historical, legal and religious claims to the territory, this land was also earmarked by the League of Nations in 1922 for the re-establishment of a Jewish homeland. In 1967, Judea and Samaria were captured by Israel from Jordan, an illegal occupier from 1948 to 1967 whose annexation of the territory was recognized by only two countries and which in 1988 renounced its claims to the territory. In short, this is unallocated territory under international law.
It is significant that a majority of the Israeli public has supported Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahus repudiation to this point of President Barack Obamas demand that Israel freeze all Jewish construction and growth in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem by 56 percent to 37 percent. It has also opposed Netanyahu acceding to Obamas reported demand that Israel abandon the settlement blocs as part of an agreement with the Palestinians by 51 percent to 34 percent.
This unrelenting pressure that President Obama has placed only on Israel is a major reason why Executive Director of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Malcolm Hoenlein, Director of the Anti-Defamation League, Abraham Foxman and Executive Director of American Jewish Committee David Harris have all recently reported as we at ZOA have reported that we continue to hear from Jews around the country expressing great concern at Obamas policies towards Israel. In Israel itself, a recent poll showed that only 6 percent of Israelis believe that President Obama is supportive of Israel.
We at ZOA urge Prime Minister Netanyahu to reject these pressures and demands, which are part of a rush to establish a Palestinian state. Such a state would surely be yet another terrorist state on Israels longest border. Would Americans feel comfortable with or support the establishment of this Palestinian state on our long northern border? We dont think so.