Saperstein: "[W]e commend President Obama for moving forcefully, during his first visit to the United Nations General Assembly as President, to restart the negotiations process."
WASHINGTON, D.C., September 21, 2009 - In response to President Obamas initiative to host a meeting this week with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Palestinian President Abbas, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:
We welcome President Obamas initiative to convene this meeting. We have long recognized that American leadership will be critical to making progress toward peace between Israel and her neighbors, and we commend President Obama for moving forcefully, during his first visit to the United Nations General Assembly as President, to restart the negotiations process.
We hope this meeting will be the start of a new era of cooperation on the part of both the Israeli and Palestinian governments to work with the U.S. Administration to advance the cause of peace. Israel must demonstrate its stated commitment to that goal by ending the expansion of settlements in accordance with prior commitments made to the United States government. Likewise, the Palestinians must take significant and commensurate steps toward peace. We concur with Defense Minister Ehud Barak in encouraging the Palestinian leadership to recognize that "this is an opportunity that must not be missed" toward achieving statehood.
The Union for Reform Judaism recently reaffirmed its support for a Middle East Peace Process based on a two-state solution in a policy resolution adopted by its Board of Trustees in June 2009. The resolution speaks clearly to Hamas, the Palestinian Authority, the Israeli Government, the U.S. Administration and the Government of Canada about the urgent need for peace, and conveys the important message that "American engagement must be met with renewed commitment and with resolve by all parties to do what only they themselves can do."
We stand ready to provide whatever support we can to the Obama Administration as it engages in the intensive and sustained diplomatic efforts necessary to move beyond the untenable status quo. We are hopeful that this meeting will mark an important step toward the negotiation of a peaceful solution.