Reform movement urges halt to settlement growth

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Reform movement said the new Israeli government must stop the expansion of settlements.

"We hope that the new Israeli government will work with the new U.S. Administration to advance the cause of peace," Rabbi David Saperstein, the director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, said in a statement. "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."

The call for the halt to settlement growth is a reiteration of a policy the Reform movement has held for a number of years. It most recently reaffirmed that view in 2004.

The movement also welcomed the "determined leadership" of President Obama, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and special Middle East envoy George Mitchell "in working toward the resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict," adding that "the greatest contribution the United States can make to help Israel is to help it move beyond the deadly status quo toward the establishment of a just and lasting peace with the Palestinians."

The statement also applauded Clinton’s call for an end to the continuing rocket fire from Gaza and called on the administration to bring about the release of Israeli solider Gilad Shalit, who was kidnapped by Hamas nearly three years ago. It also backed the $900 million in aid the administration has pledged to help rebuild Gaza, with the condition that none will go to Hamas.

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