Abbas to expand outreach to American Jewish community

A delegation of Reform Jewish leaders, including Union of Reform Judaism president Rick Jacobs, met with the PA president on Thursday in Ramallah.

March 9, 2017 20:42
2 minute read.
Rabbi Rick Jacobs

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas meets with Rabbi Rick Jacobs. (photo credit: WAFA)


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Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas intends to increase outreach to the American Jewish community, said Husam Zomlot, who was recently appointed ambassador- at-large to the United States.

His comments followed a meeting between Abbas, Union of Reform Judaism president Rick Jacobs and some 30 other Reform Jewish leaders at the Mukata, the PA presidential headquarters in Ramallah on Thursday.

“This will not be a one-time meeting,” Zomlot, who attended the meeting, told The Jerusalem Post during a phone interview. “The president sees the mainstream Jewish community in the United States as a force for peace that can help us advance the cause of the two-state solution and combat voices of extremism.”

Commenting on the meeting's possible outcome and its importance in a statement made to the press, Rabbi Jacobs said that it was "an important meeting... I was impressed with the President's clear and unequivocal commitment to the two-state solution."

Speaking about the stagnant state of peace negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians, Rabbi Jacobs went on to add that "he [Abbas] clearly is frustrated with the lack of progress, or even the existence of ongoing negotiations. I share that frustration."

Top Palestinian officials have historically maintained ties with some left-leaning Jewish-affiliated groups in America, such as J Street and Americans for Peace Now.

The Union for Reform Judaism has consistently backed a two-state solution and expressed criticism of Israeli settlement building.

Zomlot, who is slated to arrive in Washington in late March to begin his new role, added that Jacobs will be setting up a meeting for him with a number of American Jewish leaders after he arrives in the American capitol.

Jacobs was not available to comment on this report.

“The meeting today made it clear that we see eye-to-eye with the Reform movement, which represents more than a third of the American Jewish community,” Zomlot remarked. “I believe that we have a shared vision, and the need for cooperation has never been more timely.”

Zomlot said both Abbas and Jacobs affirmed their support for a two-state solution and opposition to settlements in Thursday’s meeting.

Abbas has consistently stated his support for a two-state solution since becoming president of the PA in 2005 and has engaged in a number of negotiations with Israel. Over the past several years, however, Abbas has attempted to realize a two-state solution through international institutions rather than direct engagement with the Israeli government.

Tamara Zieve contributed to this report.

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