Leaders of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America – Stephen Savitsky (President) and Rabbi Steve Weil (Exec. Vice President) issued the following statement today:The Obama Administration’s recent statements regarding the U.S. relationship with Israel are a matter of serious concern.
Israel is America’s closest ally in the Middle East as has been shown through the strong ties, values and close cooperation between the two nations since 1948.
The Obama Administration should make a conscious effort to move away from the kind of public statements it has directed at Israel over the past few days. These statements have escalated tensions between the two governments, which the Obama Administration must now de-escalate.
The controversy which has arisen regarding Israel’s planning process for development in its capital city of Jerusalem in the form of the construction of 1,600 new housing units in East Jerusalem at a future date was addressed during Vice President Biden’s trip by Prime Minister Netanyahu’s apology and Vice President Biden’s statement of understanding and recognition of the importance of a continuing close relationship.
As Vice President Biden said last week in Israel, “The cornerstone of the relationship is our absolute, total, unvarnished commitment to Israel’s security….progress occurs in the Middle East when everyone knows there is simply no space between the United States and Israel. There is no space between the United States and Israel when it comes to Israel’s security.”
The recent disclosure by Israel of its intention to build additional housing units in East Jerusalem at a future date does not contradict its announced commitment to freeze settlement building for a limited period (Israel has always defended its right to build in the eternal and indivisible capital city of Jerusalem), was never a condition of restarting negotiations with the Palestinians, and does not preclude any agreements that may be reached in those negotiations.
Prime Minister Netanyahu has been, and remains, prepared to enter into negotiations.
This is in sharp contrast to the actions of Palestinian leaders in recent days who have balked at re-entering negotiations, dedicated a public square in honor of a terrorist who murdered innocent Israelis and called for renewed violence and even a “third intifada.”
Israel’s actions during the Vice President’s trip and subsequent to it do not justify the Administration’s multiple pointed public statements which seem to call into question the fundamental nature of the longstanding “special relationship.” We believe that it is on the basis of that very relationship this crisis can and will be overcome and we look to President Obama and his foreign policy team to act in that manner.