The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, the largest mainstream Orthodox Jewish organization with nearly 1,000 synagogues nationwide, today praised the United States Senate for passing H.R.1175, a bill calling for the Department of State to raise the issue of missing Israeli soldiers Zachary Baumel, Yehuda Katz, and Zvi Feldman with officials of the relevant parties in the Middle East in an effort to secure the return of these soldiers.
This new law will ensure that the issue of the Israeli soldiers missing in action will be uppermost on the agenda when the Department of State discusses the peace process and other related matters with the appropriate countries and parties. It will also have the Unites States government take into consideration the willingness of these countries to assist in locating and securing the return of the missing soldiers when evaluating decisions with regard to US economic and other forms of assistance. Reports from the Department of State about any new information as well as what actions were taken would also be issued as public documents.
Betty Ehrenberg, Director of International Affairs and Community Relations, said, “The United States Senate has, by unanimous consent, cast its vote for the return of the Israeli soldiers missing in action. With the passage of this new law, our elected officials have demonstrated their clear understanding of the urgency of this human rights issue that has been allowed to languish for seventeen years.
The family of Zachary Baumel, a US citizen, and the families of Yehuda Katz and Zvi Feldman have been laboring long and hard to locate their missing sons and for seventeen years it has been impossible to obtain any information regarding their fate.
With the added assistance and cooperation by the State Department that is mandated by this new law, we hope that the release of these Israeli MIAs will be quickly facilitated and that this human rights question will be resolved as soon as possible. This unacceptable situation, that Israeli MIAs are being held for political ransom while peace talks are being conducted, has persisted for too long. The United States Senate deserves our praise for increasing the urgent efforts that will help find these soldiers, in our tradition of fulfilling the commandment of redeeming the captives.”