Monday, February 26, 2007

Homes Hounded

N.J. Israelis, Pro-Palestinians Protest West Bank Home Sales

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 whether 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.

Many Orthodox Jews believe that Jews have a right to settle on lands 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.

"Every settler who is added to the West Bank makes the realization of President Bush's vision of a two-state solution more difficult," Ori Nir, a spokesman for Americans for Peace Now, the sister organization of Israel's largest peace group, Peace Now, said last week.

Single-family homes begin at $120,000, the letters said. American Jews were asked to buy a home and then rent it to settlers for about $250 a month.

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