Ron Lauder: No Two-state Solution, Lack of Religious Pluralism Could Endanger Israel’s Existence

President of the World Jewish Congress will speak at an anti-Semitism conference in Jerusalem on Monday before Education Minister Naftali Bennett, whose Habayit Hayehudi party rejects two-state solution

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Haaretz
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FILE PHOTO: Donald Trump shakes hands with Ronald Lauder, President of the World Jewish Congress, after a meeting. December 28, 2016 at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida.
FILE PHOTO: Donald Trump shakes hands with Ronald Lauder, President of the World Jewish Congress, after a meeting. December 28, 2016 at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida.Credit: DON EMMERT/AFP
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Haaretz

Ronald S. Lauder, the president of the World Jewish Congress, warned that Israel faces "two grave threats," which he believes is due to not having a two-state solution and a lack of religious pluralism, in an opinion piece published in The New York Times on Sunday.

As a top U.S. Jewish leader, Lauder is actively involved in numerous organizations, including the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the Jewish National Fund and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.

"The first threat is the possible demise of the two-state solution. I am conservative and a Republican, and I have supported the Likud party since the 1980s. But the reality is that 13 million people live between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. And almost half of them are Palestinian," wrote Lauder.

In his piece, Lauder also said that Israel "will face a stark choice" to either "grant Palestinians full rights and cease being a Jewish state "or "rescind their rights and cease being a democracy." The only way to avoid either choice is with a two-state solution, he added.

U.S. President Donald Trump had said the U.S. would support a two-state solution if agreed upon by both sides. Lauder, who is a supporter of Trump, has reportedly been advising him on how to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, urging him to invest effort in serious negotiations that would lead to the creation of a Palestinian state.

"The second, two-prong threat is Israel’s capitulation to religious extremists and the growing disaffection of the Jewish diaspora. Most Jews outside of Israel are not accepted in the eyes of the Israeli ultra-Orthodox, who control ritual life and holy places in the state," added Lauder.

"Many non-Orthodox Jews, myself included, feel that the spread of state-enforced religiosity in Israel is turning a modern, liberal nation into a semi-theocratic one," he wrote.

"We must change course. We must push for a two-state solution and find common ground among ourselves so that we can ensure the success of our beloved nation," he concluded.

Lauder and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have shared a long, once-close and mutually beneficial relationship, which recently went sour – largely due to Netanyahu, who pushed his longtime supporter away.

Lauder is scheduled to speak Monday night at The Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism in Jerusalem, just before Education Minister Naftali Bennett, whose Habayit Hayehudi party rejects a two-state solution.

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