Middle East Monitor / February 15, 2021
The Reform Jewish Movement in the US has voiced its opposition to the shift in the Jewish National Fund’s policy to finance the purchase of land in the occupied West Bank. The movement fears that this step will harm the Zionist state and its relations with the Biden administration in Washington, which has reservations about Israel’s settlements.
Furthermore, the movement believes that the change will complicate Israel’s ties with the international community. All Israeli settlements on Palestinian land are illegal under international law.
“We appreciate and support the Jewish and democratic state of Israel,” explained Richard Jacobs, head of the Union for Reform Judaism. “That is why we will continue to vigorously oppose the policies that undermine the safety, security and moral character of our Jewish homeland (…) especially at this moment when Israel is looking forward to establishing strong relations with the Biden administration, as this unilateral move could be both controversial and harmful.”
A few days ago, the US State Department said that it is necessary for Israel to avoid taking unilateral steps that exacerbate tensions and undermine efforts to achieve a two-state solution. This includes annexation, settlement building and home demolitions.
The changes by the Jewish National Fund come in light of the growing influence of the far right within Zionist organisations, said Israel Today.
The Jewish National Fund was established in 1901 with the purpose of purchasing land in Palestine to build settlements almost fifty years before the State of Israel was declared in 1948. All JNF-bought land is for the exclusive use of Jews. Critics point to it being a tool of Israeli apartheid which discriminates openly against Palestinian Arabs.