FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
UNION OF ORTHODOX JEWISH CONGREGATIONS COMMENTS ON ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER’S COMMENTS ON THE ROLE OF DIASPORA JEWISH GROUPS AND THE ISSUE OF JERUSALEM’S FATE
This afternoon, in a briefing with reporters on the eve of the Annapolis meeting between Israeli and Arab leaders, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel was asked about his view of the proper role of American Jewish organizations, such as the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America (aka the “Orthodox Union”) in the negotiations – and particularly with regard to the issue of the fate of Jerusalem.
Prime Minister Olmert is reported to have said: “Does any Jewish organization have a right to confer upon Israel what it negotiates or not? This question was decided a long time ago. The government of Israel has a sovereign right to negotiate anything on behalf of Israel.”
Commenting on this report, Orthodox Union president Steve Savitsky and public policy director Nathan Diament issued the following statement:
In vigorously advocating for the unity of Jerusalem in the weeks leading up to the Annapolis conference, the Orthodox Union has not sought to “confer upon” or dictate to the Israeli government what it has the legal right to negotiate about with Palestinian or other Arab leaders. We have, however, sought to express our heartfelt and strong view that all Jews around the globe have a stake in the holy city of Jerusalem, and that to cede portions of the city which has been the spiritual and political capital of the Jewish people for millennia is a step the government of Israel ought not take.
In this advocacy, we are engaging in the very sort of action which Prime Minister Olmert himself welcomed when he addressed the Orthodox Union’s biennial convention in Jerusalem one year ago, when he stated: “I always believed, all my life in listening to the Jews who live outside the State of Israel…that it is totally inconceivable to me that when we will need you, you will stand firmly behind us 100 percent; but then when it comes to issues which may define…also the quality of your life in your communities, [we] would say, this is our issues, you are not part of it. This is impossible. We have to be able to share with you, to dialogue with you, to talk to with you, to listen to you. We don’t have to agree with you about everything, as you don’t have to agree with us about everything. But we have to be able to open ourselves to you and to talk with you.”
The Orthodox Union looks forward to this continued dialogue with the Prime Minister in the critical weeks ahead. ###