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Reform rabbis back Obama on settlements

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Reform rabbinate is backing President Obama’s position on Israeli settlements.

The Central Conference of American Rabbis, which represents nearly 2,000 Reform rabbis, said it believes the president’s call for a stop to all Israeli settlement activity and his "outspokenness" on the issue is "in the best interest of the United States, of the State of Israel, and of peace."

"The CCAR has also long seen settlements in the West Bank as potential obstacles to peace," said the statement from Rabbis Ellen Weinberg Dreyfus and Steven Fox, president and executive vice president of the organization. "Repeatedly, we have called for freezing settlement activity. Establishing new settlements or ‘outposts,’ or continuing to expand existing settlements, even by ‘natural growth,’ does not serve the cause of Israel or of peace."

The group, though, also emphasized that "Israeli settlements in the West Bank are not the greatest threat to Middle East peace." It said the "Iranian regime’s ongoing nuclear threats against Israel and its support for Hezbollah, Hamas, and other terrorist groups pose the single greatest threat to peace, to the United States, to the Middle East, and to Israel today."

In addition, the CCAR said, "Israel cannot be expected to make significant concessions when it remains under terrorist attack."

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