A senior delegation of the Rabbinical Congress for Peace (RCP) met on Tuesday with Ambassador Andrew Standley, the Head of the European Union in Israel, to present the Torah view on the issue of giving up land to the Arabs.
The rabbis made it clear that the majority of rabbis in Israel and abroad are of the opinion that it is absolutely forbidden, according to Jewish law, to give up an inch of the Promised Land to the Arabs.
The rabbis also cited the halakha in the Jewish Code of Law Chapter 329, that the sanctity of life overrides all other considerations and giving up land has proven more than once that it leads to violence, bloodshed and instability.
“As rabbis we are committed to peace and to promoting peace, but a true and lasting peace, not one that will blow up in our faces before the ink of the agreement has a chance to dry,” they told the ambassador.
Rabbi Avrohom Shmuel Lewin, Director-General of the RCP, asked the ambassador how long the EU will continue the futile exercise of supporting a “territory for peace” formula, which has proven over and over again that it is really “territory for terror.”
“The EU is urging Israel to withdraw to the 1967 borders. We did that in Gaza and what did we get? 10,000 missiles. Do you want that to happen in Judea and Samaria too?” Rabbi Lewin asked Standley.
Rabbi Shlomo Rosenfeld, the Rabbi of Shadmot Mehola in the Jordan Valley, emphasized that it is precisely the EU, representing the European countries where the Holocaust took place, that must bear the responsibility for a secure Israel.
“What is happening today is an extension of the Holocaust,” he told Standley. “The Jewish people are again being made a scapegoat for the lack of world peace while the Palestinian terrorists and murderers are depicted as innocent peace seekers. I want to state in no uncertain terms that the EU’s one sided support of the Palestinian demands is an extension of the Holocaust.”
Rabbi Abraham Shreiber, the rabbi of the community of Kfar Darom in Gush Katif, which was evicted during the 2005 disengagement, related that before the disengagement from Gaza, local Gaza residents and the Jewish neighbors lived in peace and harmony. He said that the vegetables and fruits grown in Gush Katif were the best in the country and the Arabs learned how grow them too, benefiting from the jobs available there in agriculture.
“We still get calls today from many former Arab neighbors complaining that situation has become much worse for the Arabs themselves as a result of the disengagement. They are pleading with us to come back,” he said.
Ambassador Standley listened attentively to the rabbis and thanked them for coming to present the Torah view. He said that it is hard to argue with the rabbis, since they live in Israel and feel the heat on a daily basis, while he will only be in Israel for a few years before moving on to another country.
Standley added, however, that while the Jewish people are bound by the Torah which is eternal, he and the EU are bound by international law which has not accepted laws of the Torah.
Last month, Standley made it clear that the EU continues to regard Israel's presence in the Jewish people's ancestral homeland as "occupation."
“They [Judea and Samaria] are indeed occupied territory under international law, where Israel is the occupying power,” Standley told Arutz Sheva.
“Under international humanitarian law, the Geneva Conventions, the occupying power has certain obligations and certain prohibitions, including having its population settle the occupied territory,” he added. “And this is why, under international law, including the interpretation of the European Union, it has,... there should not be settlement by Israel or by Israelis in the occupied territory.”
Legally, Israel's presence in Judea and Samaria is not occupation, despite the widespread use of the term in this regard, as the land in question was actually illegally occupied by Jordan in Israel's 1948 War of Independence, although it was originally slated to be part of the Jewish homeland.
At the same time, Standley denied that the EU takes an anti-Israel position, saying that his opinion is that Europe was solicitous over Israel's security. The EU is not anti-Israel and views the two state solution as the best way out, he said.
Last week, as part of EU’s assessment of its partnership with 12 neighboring countries, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton listed a set of characteristically harsh ‘recommendations’ regarding relations with Israel.
The recommendations include a call on Israel “to continue to step up its efforts to minimize settler violence in the occupied Palestinian territory and to bring all perpetrators to justice” and “address the excessive use of administrative detention.”
Ashton previously made a skewed comparison between the lethal, unprovoked shooting attack at a Jewish school in Toulouse and the unintended deaths of children in Gaza when Israel attempts to stop missile launchings and apprehend terrorists. She later categorically denied making that comparison.