ARZA, CCAR Strongly Condemn Israeli Regularization Bill

Declare New Law Undemocratic and Shortsighted

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Association of Reform Zionists of America (ARZA) and the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) strongly condemn the Knesset’s passage yesterday of the so-called “Regularization Bill” as undemocratic and shortsighted.

In a disturbing turn of events, the Regularization Bill passed its second and third readings late Monday night in the Knesset by a vote of 60-52. The law, which applies specifically to properties in 16 settlements, retroactively legalizes controversial settlements and outposts on privately owned Palestinian property, expropriating them as state-owned land. Under the bill’s terms, the government would offer Palestinian owners financial compensation for their lands—a de facto admission that the settlers’ land is not, in fact, ownerless.

The Reform Jewish Movement in North America is determined that only a two-state solution, negotiated by both the Israelis and Palestinians, can end the conflict and offer hope for security and a lasting peace for both peoples. This new law poses a tremendous obstacle toward that elusive goal. We worry that this is, in fact, an incremental step toward Israel’s unilateral annexation of significant blocs of the West Bank, further jeopardizing the actual contiguous land needed for a future Palestinian state.

Many in Israel’s center-right camp have criticized the law as reckless and dangerous, particularly because it affects Palestinians who are not Israeli citizens and, as Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit stated, this legislation is in violation of international law regarding property rights.

“This bill’s passage presents a grave risk to Israel’s identity as a Jewish and democratic State as it enables Jews to legally expropriate Palestinian land,” said Rabbi Joshua Weinberg, President of ARZA.

“We are deeply concerned that this law will further isolate Israel in the international community and expose Israel and its military officers to legal action in the International Criminal Court.  We celebrate Israel’s democratic institutions and commitment to rule of law—and we regard this law as both unjust and utterly indefensible at Israel’s High Court of Justice or The Hague. We urge the government to find and adopt alternative legislation consistent with Israeli and international law.”

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The Association of Reform Zionists of America, founded in 1978, is the Zionist arm of the North American Reform Movement, working to strengthen the connection of million and a half Reform Jews to Israel and to supporting the Reform Movement in Israel.

The CCAR. Founded in 1889, is the oldest and largest rabbinic organization in North America. The CCAR’s unique contribution to a continued vibrant Jewish community and Reform Movement lies in its work fostering excellence in Reform Rabbis; enhancing unity and connectedness among Reform Jews; applying Jewish values to contemporary life; and, creating a compelling and accessible Judaism for today and the future.