A delegation from the Rabbinical Congress for Peace (RCP) met with Knesset ministers and MKs on Wednesday, urging them to prepare resignation letters to prevent land concessions in ongoing peace talks with the Palestinian Authority (PA).
RCP rabbis warned Tourism Minister Uzi Landau and Agriculture Minister Yair Shamir that they sense a complacency similar that prior to the "Disengagement" from Gush Katif.
"It’s not enough to verbally oppose the current negotiations or vote against it, but you and all those ministers and coalition members who share your views must announce that you have submitted a letter of resignation from the government that will take effect the moment the government agrees to territorial concessions," pressed the RCP rabbis.
“I have no doubt that once (Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu) will feel that he is losing support of his right wing flank it will deter him," reasoned Rabbi Avrohom Shmuel Lewin, Executive Director of RCP. "He won’t want to form a more left-wing coalition now especially when the nation is furious over his release of arch-terrorists. Stop this madness now.”
RCP rabbis - no justification to stay in coalition, be proactive
The ministers tried to justify staying in the coalition saying they can "minimize damage" from within, whereas leftist parties could replace them if they left.
RCP Chairman Rabbi Joseph Gerlitzky shot down their argument, saying "every bad thing can be worse. Would you remain in the government if you know it is ready to give up half of Eretz Israel out of fear that if you leave they will give up all of Eretz Israel?"
"There must be a red line that will prevent you from being part of a government that leads to bloodshed G-d forbid," added Rabbi Gerlitzky. "What are you waiting for? That the Arabs should control the1967 borders and then you’ll leave?! Won’t you find an excuse then to also say 'if we leave it will be worse?'"
Rabbi Gerlitzky used the terrorist releases as "gestures" in the peace talks, moved the RCP has opposed, as an example.
"Did anyone ever think that they would remain in a government that commits such a suicidal act (of releasing terrorists)?" asked Rabbi Gerlitzky. "The most extreme left coalitions opposed such a move in the past. But when you send the message to...Netanyahu that business is as usual, that you’ll vote against his moves but will allow him to do as he pleases, you will be fully responsible for the future bloodshed."
Judaism forbids land concessions
In the meeting, the rabbis emphasized the Halachic (Jewish legal) Ruling signed by over 350 rabbis, which rules that according to the precept of pikuach nefesh (preservation of life), it is forbidden to relinquish any land of Jewish communities to non-Jews.
“We’re here as rabbis relaying to you the Torah view that relinquishing land to the Palestinians is forbidden because of pikuach nefesh but there is no need tell you this ruling," commented Rabbi Sholom Gold. "This has been an obvious fact that every single citizen witnessed with his own eyes in the past 25 years. Every territorial concession led to increased terrorist activity, murder of Jews and placing in danger millions of citizens.”
Rabbi Abraham Yaakov Shreiber, the Rabbi of Kfar Darom in Gush Katif, responded to the ministers' attempts to placate the rabbis by saying the talks will lead nowhere.
"That is precisely what they told us on the eve of the disengagement from Gush Katif," retorted Rabbi Shreiber. "Then too they tried to calm us down saying that this was a right-wing government and that there is no chance that it would pass but when they woke up it was too late. ...Synagogues were destroyed and today they serve as a training and launching pad for terrorists to fire rockets on Israel.”
Landau tried to argue with the rabbis, saying the PA will never agree to Israel's demands.
"Are you saying that we should rely on (PA Chairman) Mahmoud Abbas that he will preserve the security of Israel?" responded Rabbi Moshe Havlin, Chief Rabbi of Kiryat Gat and Sderot. "You were elected to preserve the security of Israel. You can’t rely on the Palestinians, they never kept a promise and know how to lie better than you.”
Hareidi threat to approve withdrawals as "punishment" is appaling
After meeting the ministers, the rabbis talked with hareidi MK Meir Porush, expressing their shock and anger over reports that hareidi MKs are planning to vote in favor of withdrawals from Judea and Samaria as a "punishment" for government rulings against yeshiva students.
“We are totally appalled by this threat," remarked the rabbis. “Do you punish someone for committing a sin by committing another sin? Would you say ‘since you oppose Sabbath observance we will oppose putting on Tefilin? Giving up Judea and Samaria is a matter of pikuach nefesh, which one is not only permitted but is obligated to set aside all other mitzvoth to save lives.”
RCP rabbis criticized the silence of hareidi MKs during the "Disengagement" so as to receive funding for their yeshivot.
“Learning Torah at the expense of the spilling of Jewish blood is worthless and will not last," warned the rabbis, demanding that hareidi MKs refuse to take "bribe money" to allow territory concessions. "This will atone for their actions until now and will remove all the decrees on the Torah world."