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“We clearly did not agree on everything, nor did we expect to. We were warmly received, and our conversation was positive.”
Jerusalem, March 9, 2017 – The leadership of the Union for Reform Judaism in the U.S., led by URJ President Rabbi Rick Jacobs, were welcomed this afternoon by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the Mukataa in Ramallah.
The URJ delegation consists of approximately 30 members of senior lay and professional leadership, representing the largest movement in North American Jewish life. President Abbas was joined by Deputy Prime Minister Ziad Abu Amr and Husam Zomlot, strategy advisor to President Abbas and the newly appointed Palestinian Authority’s Ambassador to Washington.
Rabbi Jacobs noted that it was “an important meeting, one which covered a wide array of issues. I was impressed with the President’s clear and unequivocal commitment to the two-state solution. He clearly is frustrated with the lack of progress, or even the existence of ongoing negotiations. I share that frustration.”
According to President Abbas, “the continued Israeli settlement activities are illegal and undermine the two-state solution.”
Rabbi Jacobs also said, “I was pleased to hear that Palestinian officials have been in contact with the Trump administration, which had confirmed to President Abbas that the U.S. policy remains in support of the two-state solution.”
“We pressed the President about the Palestinian Authority’s responsibility to stem anti-Israeli incitement. He acknowledged it was a real challenge, just as it is in Israel and called for reviving the anti-incitement trilateral committee led by the U.S.,” Rabbi Jacobs added.
Daryl Messinger, Chair of the URJ North American Board, commented, “We clearly did not agree on everything, nor did we expect to. We were warmly received, and I found our conversation to be positive.”
The meeting with President Abbas was part of a URJ Leadership Mission, which has been in Israel since Monday. The group met with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, Jewish Agency President Natan Sharansky, as well as MK’s including Tzipi Livni, Isaac Herzog, and Minister Tzachi Hanegbi. Other sessions included traveling to the settlement of Psagot and meeting with leadership there, as well as conducting an egalitarian prayer service at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. The delegation is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu on Sunday before returning to North America.
About the Union for Reform Judaism
The Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) builds community at every level—from the way we collaborate with congregations, organizations, and individuals to how we make connections across North America to advance contemporary and inclusive Jewish life.
Providing vision and voice to transform the way people connect to Judaism, we help congregations stay relevant and innovative, motivate more young Jews to embrace Jewish living, agitate for a more progressive society, and foster meaningful connections to Israel.
Founded in 1873, URJ has grown into the largest and most powerful force in North American Jewish life, with nearly 900 member congregations and work that inspires, connects, and educates millions of people.