Several leading religious Zionist rabbis met at on Monday afternoon in the Knesset with members of the Likud and the Jewish Home factions, and discussed with them the planned demolitions of communities in Judea and Samaria.
The rabbis in attendance included Kiryat Arba’s rabbi, Rav Dov Lior; Beit El’s Rabbi Rav Zalman Melamed; Rav Haim Steiner of the Mercaz HaRav yeshiva in Jerusalem; Rav Chaim Druckman, who heads the Center of Bnei Akiva Yeshivas; Chief Rabbi of Kiryat Shmona, Rav Zephaniah Drori; and Rabbi Eitan Eisman, head of the Noam school system in Israel.
The discussion was led by Minister Yuli Edelstein. The Likud party was also represented by Deputy Minister Lea Nass and MKs Danny Danon, Tzipi Hotovely, Yariv Levin, Miri Regev, Haim Katz, Ofir Akunis and Zion Pinyan.
Rabbi Melamed said prior to the meeting, “We came here to prevent this and with G-d’s help, it will happen.”
“This simply cannot be done,” he added. “To demolish homes, to expel people from their homes, small children who have lived there for ten years…The Likud has never done such a thing and will never do such a thing.”
Supreme Court Dorit Beinisch has ruled recently that land in Judea, Samaria and Binyamin that has no proven Arab owners but is not designated as state land is to be considered Arab land by default rather than state land.
As well, the court does not consider suggesting payment or alternate land in the rare cases of Arab landowner claimants whose claim is found to be justified. In addition, the state aided in the founding of certain communities without determining their final status and the court has ruled on demolitions without that final determination.
Rabbi Lior explained in the discussion that “it is fundamentally wrong to call it Arab territory when Israel liberated and restored lands that were stolen by the Jordanians, who then gave them to Arabs. If it really belongs to someone then you compensate the Arab owner and not destroy.”
He called on the MKs to “stand firmly. You have the power to prevent this and you will be written in history as those who prevented this disaster this.”
MK Regev later said, “We won’t reach a situation where homes are destroyed. Anything that is illegal is illegal, but whatever is legal cannot be demolished. We will not ignore this.”
Minister Edelstein, who led the discussion, welcomed the rabbis and said, “The arrival of the rabbis is a clear message and the presence of 14 ministers and MKs of the Likud at this meeting proves that we are united against this. My advice is that we arrange meetings with the other members who were not present here today.”
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu recently ordered the formation of a government committee tasked with legalizing some of Judea and Samaria’s outposts. However, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein threw a wrench into the committee’s work by determining that the committee will not be able to discuss communities on which there is already a court ruling.
Weinstein’s move means that the committee will only work to prevent future demolitions and will not discuss the communities already scheduled for demolition.
MK Yariv Levin, who was also present at Monday’s meeting, reiterated comments he made in an interview on Sunday with Arutz Sheva.
“We need to delay the demolition and then legalize these communities,” he said. “The committee will only be worth something if it has a mandate. In a democracy one cannot say that the elected government is limited. We must set an ultimatum that the committee will not be limited in its made and that its members will be chosen after consultation with us.”