STAMFORD, Conn. (JTA) – Adopting its first resolution on Israel’s security in recent memory, Agudath Israel of America opposed relinquishing any Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem to the Palestinians.
The umbrella group for fervently Orthodox Jews, or haredim, also vowed at its 85th national convention over the weekend to communicate that view to Israeli government officials.
Adopted on the eve of Tuesday’s Israeli-Palestinian peace conference in Annapolis, Md., the resolution comes less than a week after leaders of eight member groups of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations urged the body to reaffirm its longstanding position that Jerusalem should remain Israel’s united capital.
Last Saturday, 800 convention participants, and many more guests who came just for the evening plenary, heard from the head of Agudah’s Council of Torah Sages, Rabbi Yaakov Perlow.
Perlow, the Novominsker rebbe, reiterated Agudah’s longstanding policy of deferring to Israeli rabbinic authorities on matters related to Israel. He reported on his recent consultations in Israel with Rabbis Yoseph Sholom Elyashiv and Aharon Yehuda Leib Shteinman.
“I oppose this very strongly,” Perlow quoted Elyashiv as telling him recently in Jerusalem about ceding any part of the Israeli capital. “As far as the security of the area, it will accomplish nothing. If a yid wants to approach the Kotel,” the Western Wall, “he’ll need a permit, an entrance pass from the Arabs.
Perlow also stressed Jerusalem’s centrality to the Jewish spirit and his reluctance to trust Israeli leaders “who’ve been known to fail us.”
Mayor Uri Lupolianski, Jerusalem’s first haredi mayor, said his is a vibrant city that is “full of life,” but “dark clouds” are gathering.
“Government ministers are speaking openly about slicing up Yerushalayim like a salami and serving slices to the Palestinians,” Lupolianski said. “They are not ashamed to bring neighborhoods of our Yerushalayim and offer them to our enemies. And this will bring us peace?”
Outside the convention hall here, protesters from the fringe anti-Zionist group Neturei Karta protested Lupolianski’s appearance. A heavy police presence kept the group at a safe distance from the hotel while a helicopter circled overhead. No arrests or injuries were reported.