The United Nations voted yesterday to accept Palestinian non-member observer state status at the UN. In response to this vote, Rabbi Rick Jacobs today issued a statement on behalf of the Reform Movement:

We are deeply disappointed in the results of the vote in the United Nations yesterday to accept Palestinian non-member observer state status. We believe this decision will undercut incentives for a final  agreement that must be negotiated by the two impacted parties directly. We are also concerned about the potential for this decision to enable the Palestinians to challenge Israel, both diplomatically and legally, in the international arena in UN sponsored venues such as the International Criminal Court, a move that will do serious damage to rebuilding the trust between Israel and the Palestinians.

We want to commend–and thank–the United States and Canada for their vigorous position regarding this UN vote. We agree with Secretary of State Clinton who said, “Only through direct negotiations between the parties can the Palestinians and Israelis achieve the peace that both deserve: two states for two people, with a sovereign, viable and independent Palestine living side-by-side in peace and security with a Jewish and democratic Israel.”

And, we urge President Obama to take the lead in mobilizing robust negotiations as soon as possible. As we have seen repeatedly over the decades, and most recently during the confrontation between Israel and Hamas, U.S, leadership is crucial if diplomatic progress is to be made.

However, we want to warn against punitive measures in forms that will weaken the Palestinian Authority (PA) for bringing this vote to the international body. Prospects for a two state solution, so vital to Israel’s security and well-being and to the prospect of a viable Palestinian state, require a PA strong enough to take political risks for peace. Endangering the viability of a PA already teetering on financial bankruptcy will only empower Hamas and its like-minded allies in Iran and elsewhere. In this context, we strongly commend the Israeli government on its decision to have no immediate punitive response.