Britain's Top Jewish Body Votes in Favor of Adding Pro-peace Group to Its Ranks

The Yachad group, which supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and takes British Jews on fact-finding tours of the West Bank, has divided opinion in the past.

Hannah Weisfeld

The British Jewish community's main representative body, the Board of Deputies, voted Sunday on accepting the pro-peace group Yachad to its ranks.

Yachad supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and among its other activities, takes British Jews on fact-finding tours of the West Bank.

The group has divided opinion in the past, when the British Zionist Federation refused to accept Yachad as an affiliated organization, despite its clear position of support for Israel.

Many establishment figures called on the Board to accept Yachad during its meeting Sunday, but a number of right-wing bloggers had run an online campaign in recent weeks, urging the board members to vote against accepting the group, arguing that it is hostile to Israel.

The campaign has accused Yachad of supporting sanctions against Israel, an allegation that its leadership emphatically denies.

While a survey carried out in 2010 found that 77 percent of British Jews support a two-state solution, smaller groups on the right and left tend to be more voluble and in the case of those supporting the right-wing parties in Israel, also better represented in some of the main communal organizations.

Yachad's request to be accepted by the Board of Deputies needed two-thirds majority. After an impassioned debate attended by an unprecedented number of deputies and spectators, the Board voted 135-61 in favor of accepting Yachad.