NJ: SYNAGOGUE TO HOST EVENT TO AID WEST BANK SETTLERS
TEANECK, N.J. -- American Jews on Sunday were given information on how to buy homes on the West Bank, an event the organizer promoted as a way to help Jewish settlers.
The effort has drawn rebukes from an Israeli group as well as pro-Palestinian organizations, who say such efforts undermine international peace efforts. Some of their members protested outside the meeting, held at an Orthodox synagogue in Teaneck, Congregation B'nai Yeshurun.
The opposition groups believe the gathering represented the first time West Bank homes have been offered for sale in the United States.
They also questioned if the sale of what they consider illegally occupied lands violates anti-discrimination laws, but a New Jersey official has said state and federal authorities have no jurisdiction on overseas property.
The sales pitch was organized by the Amana Settlement Movement, a group based in Israel.
In promotional material, Amana said, "Come learn how you, a group of friends or even a community can own a home and strengthen the Zionist dream."
"Amana will reliably manage and rent your home. Your investment is insured, protected and 100% legal," it continued. Amana named 10 settlements that are participating.
The settlements are controversial because Israel promised in the early 1990s to freeze settlement construction on the West Bank and Gaza Strip as part of the Oslo peace process. The lands were captured in the 1967 Mideast War. In addition, under the 2003 "road map" peace plan, Israel agreed to remove dozens of Jewish outposts from the West Bank.
Nearly 270,000 Jewish settlers, up 6 percent over the past year, live in the West Bank among 2.4 million Palestinians. In the summer of 2005, Israel evacuated all 8,500 settlers from the Gaza Strip.
Many Orthodox Jews believe that Jews have a right to settle on land that are part of the biblical land of Israel.
Opposition groups, however, contend that increased settlement damages efforts to create a Palestinian state, a goal backed by the U.S. government.