Rabbis unite in call to strengthen Israel's hold on Jerusalem - but one says the Israeli-Arab city Um el-Fahm and environs can be traded.
"We have been stunned and shocked to hear of the intentions of our enemies from within and without, who speak openly about giving away and abandoning the Temple Mount and parts of the Jewish People's eternal capital."
So begins a declaration issued today by the Yesha (Judea and Samaria) Rabbis Council, headed by Rabbis Dov Lior and Zalman Melamed.
"The very thought of foreign defilement and control of the Mountain of G-d's Abode and in holy Jerusalem is shocking to every Jew. The Nation of Israel, charged with preserving the sanctity of the Temple Mount, the Western Wall and all of Jerusalem - east and west - throughout the generations, will not allow these destructive, catastrophic and irresponsible intentions to be implemented, Heaven forbid."
"Those who even mention the possibility of abandoning the Temple Mount and of dividing Jerusalem will be forever remembered in ignominy by the Nation of Israel."
Rabbi Rosenne's Call
Rabbi Yisrael Rosenne, head of the Zomet Institute for Jewish Law, Technology and Modern Society, registers his own call to preserve Jerusalem - but throws in an unexpected add-on. In his weekly column in Zomet's "Shabbat B'Shabbato" synagogue pamphlet, Rabbi Rosenne writes:
"...Once again Jerusalem is under the knife on the operating table! ... Once again a trial balloon is sent off towards the Israeli public to see how it will respond to major concessions... But Master of the Universe, from how many national and security assets must we divest ourselves? We have conceded and conceded, and made gesture after gesture, and have 'come towards' again and again; we have given up the flowering Gush Etzion, and the Philadelphi Route, and we have freed thousands of dangerous terrorists - but did all this move anyone on the other side? Have we heard even the slightest peep of true peace over there? ..."
Rabbi Rosenne then changes tone by writing, "In truth, if I thought there was on the horizon a chance for true negotiations that would bring a lasting resolution, I would not balk at the idea of trading territories and their populations. Given the situation in which we live, there is room to talk about transferring Um El-Fahm and environs [the Arab-populated areas between Hadera and Afula known as The Triangle - ed.] to Palestinian Authority responsibility, in exchange for the settlement blocs in Judea and Samaria."
He later clarified to Arutz-7 that he was not referring only to the three settlement blocs that the government is currently insisting on retaining - namely, Maaleh Adumim, Gush Katif, and Ariel. "Of course I mean also western Shomron, and the Binyamin areas, and Kedumim, etc.," the rabbi emphasized. "I certainly don't mean to imply that we should withdraw from areas that are not considered 'blocs.' My main point is that we are always willing to make concessions, while the other side doesn't respond in kind at all."
Rabbi Rosenne's article then continues, "I write this [idea of trading territory] with a heavy heart, but with a clear mind. If you will, we can learn from this week's Torah portion [in which the Patriarch Abraham offers to divide the land with his nephew Lot]... but G-d later comforts Abraham and says, 'Don't worry! There is yet time for the dream of the Complete Land of Israel to be fulfilled! 'For all the Land that you see, I will give to you and your descendants.'"
"But even if trading territory can be discussed, the idea of dividing Jerusalem can never be! ... Once the idea is even raised, our enemies hear and absorb - and later it will be too late for us to say that we didn't mean it or that it was taken out of context... The final word is that may his tongue cleave to his palate of anyone who dares speak of separation and division in Jerusalem."
Yesha Rabbis' Conclusion
The Yesha Rabbis call upon "Cabinet ministers, Knesset Members, the Torah world and all of Israel to wake up and make sure to thwart, no matter how, these evil plans, and to add sovereignty and strengthen Jewish presence in the Temple Mount - the heart of our nation - and in all of Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the Jewish People, by building and settling throughout, and to visit the Halakhically-permitted places on the Temple Mount and build a synagogue there - for if there is no Temple Mount, there is no Jerusalem, and if there is no Jerusalem, then there is no State of Israel, Heaven forbid. (emphasis in the original)