BERLIN (JTA) — JCall, a new European Jewish lobby, launched a German branch and called on Israel to continue its moratorium on construction in West Bank settlements.
The branch was established in meetings Sunday in Frankfurt am Main. Berlin Rabbi Tovia Ben-Chorin and Frankfurt professor Micha Brumlik were named co-chairs. JCall is modeled after the dovish U.S. pro-Israel lobby J Street.
In its first official act, the German branch — which says Israel needs both support and criticism — urged all those participating in peace talks to "keep their eye on the goal."
"As we speak, the talks between Israel and the Palestinians are in danger of running aground over the issue of settlement construction," the group said in its opening statement, which was issued Monday. "We are worried about the future of Israel, in its cultural and moral importance for the Jews of the world."
The building freeze in West Bank settlements ended at midnight Sunday.
Ben-Chorin said JCall is intended as a voice of constructive criticism "with love for Israel, in its own interest and with an eye to a just resolution to the Mideast conflict."
JCall was launched in May with a "European Call for Reason" campaign in Brussels amid sharp criticism from the European Jewish Congress and other mainstream Jewish groups, which said JCall represented a minority view.
Several prominent Israelis lent their support to the group in May, including historian and peace activist Zeev Sternhell; Avi Primor, former Israeli ambassador to Germany; and Elie Barnavi, former Israeli ambassador to France.