UK Board of Deputies asks candidates to support PA State

UK Jewish leadership sends both candidates list of 10 Commitments; May and Corbyn promised to keep them - one is to advocate for a PA state.

Arutz Sheva Staff , | updated: 11:54 PM

Theresa May
Theresa May

British Jewish leaders urged both candidates for British premiership to support Palestinian statehood and get Jewish votes in return, Israel National News has learned. Israeli members of government, most of whom strongly oppose this request have expressed their displeasure privately.

The Board of Deputies is considered the main representative body of British Jews. Yesterday, the Board distributed an email linking to videos sent to the Jewish community by the two prime-ministerial candidates, Conservative candidate Theresa May and Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn.

The Board’s email explains the video messages were “sent in response to the Board of Deputies'...10 Commitments we have asked all prospective parliamentary candidates to sign up to” - that is, before trying to get the Jewish community's vote.

The “10 commitments” drafted by the Board of Deputies were obtained by Israel National News. They mainly relate to “issues of concern to Jewish voters” such as kashrut, Shabbat observance, anti-Semitism, Holocaust remembrance, faith schools and culturally sensitive youth and social care services.

However, “Commitment 5” insists that the British leaders accommodate their Jewish constituents by advocating for a “viable” Palestinian state. (For the entire list, see end of this article.)

Predictably for such a close election, the video messages both from May and from Corbyn praise the Board of Deputies’ “10 commitments” document and promise that the candidates will advocate for establishment of a Palestinian state -- as requested by their Jewish voters.

Theresa May

Jeremy Corbyn

The Board of Deputies, established in 1760, has long sought to be regarded as a forum representing different sectors of the UK Jewish community. The Board is currently led by Jonathan Arkush, who is Modern Orthodox, whereas the chief executive of the Board is Gillian Merron, a former Labour Party politician. The Board of Deputies offices are co-located with the United Jewish Israel Appeal. The board is also the British affiliate of the World Jewish Congress (WJC) and of the European Jewish Congress.

Individual Deputies are elected by synagogues, charities and youth groups such as Emunah and Bnei Akiva. The list of deputies serving on the Board appears to be confidential and no contact information of the individual deputies appears to be publicly available. Contacted last month regarding the prospect of Bnei Akiva UK indirectly supporting Palestinian statehood, the head of World Bnei Akiva’s British desk dismissed the concern as a “rumour” and insisted that Bnei Akiva UK was a “politically non-partisan youth movement, which does not take a political stance on this subject”.

The Government of Israel’s official guidelines contain no support for Palestinian state, an outcome strongly opposed by many members of Government. Most Israeli ministers in the present coalition believe that Israel-Arab peace must be achieved by alternative solutions, and not by establishing a Palestinian state as urged by the British-Jewish group.

The actions of the Board of Deputies were brought to the attention of members of the Government of Israel who reportedly expressed consternation. Yariv Levin, the minister responsible for Government-Knesset coordination and former head of the Knesset’s Committee for Foreign Affairs and Security, responded privately that this was “absolutely terrible” whereas Deputy Foreign Minister Zipi Hotovely reportedly told her supporters that it would have been “wonderful” if British Jewry had done precisely the opposite -- had insisted that no Palestinian state be established.

Addenda: The 10 Commitments:

Defend the right to a Jewish way of life, including kosher meat; religious clothing; circumcision; and flexible working to accommodate Shabbat and festival observance.

Oppose all forms of hate crime, including Antisemitism, Islamophobia and other types of racism, promoting and enhancing community safety.

Promote good relations, understanding and cooperation between all of the UK's communities.

Support efforts to remember and understand the Holocaust, and strive to prevent any future genocide.

Advocate for a permanent, comprehensive solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, resulting in a secure Israel alongside a viable Palestinian state.

Promote peace projects that unite communities, and resist boycotts that divide communities.

Affirm the importance of faith schools within the overall provision.

Support the provision of religiously and culturally sensitive youth and social care services.

Promote a more just and sustainable future in the UK and abroad; supporting efforts to tackle poverty, climate change and human rights abuses.

Celebrate and support Jewish heritage and cultural institutions.