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More than 400 Jewish clergy press Netanyahu on E1

JTA

December 18, 2012 | 9:29 am

A crane lifts a concrete block for the construction of a section of the Israeli barrier in Shuafat refugee camp in the West Bank, near Jerusalem, on Dec. 5. Photo by Ammar Awad/Reuters

A crane lifts a concrete block for the construction of a section of the Israeli barrier in Shuafat refugee camp in the West Bank, near Jerusalem, on Dec. 5. Photo by Ammar Awad/Reuters

More than 400 American Jewish clergy asked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not to go ahead with new construction in a corridor connecting eastern Jerusalem to the West Bank settlement of Ma'ale Adumim.

"We fear that building settlements in E1 would be the final blow to a peaceful solution," read the letter released Monday and organized by J Street, Americans for Peace Now and Rabbis for Human Rights-North America. "If Israel builds in E1, it will cut East Jerusalem off from its West Bank surroundings and effectively bifurcate the West Bank. In doing so, E1 will literally represent an obstacle to a two-state solution."

Successive American governments have opposed development in E1, concerned that it would interrupt the contiguity of any future Palestinian state. Israeli officials have argued that its development does not necessarily prevent a contiguous Palestinian state.

"As American rabbis and cantors, we also fear that construction in E1 damages the critical relationship between Israel and the United States," the letter states. "Construction in E1 would violate repeated commitments to the United States, dating back to 1994, not to build settlements in the area."

The signatories are rabbis, rabbinical students, cantors and cantorial students from across the United States, including large representations from Los Angeles, the Bay Area, Denver, Boston, Florida, Chicago, the Washington DC-area, and New York.

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