In response to a letter from the Rabbinical Congress for Peace (RCP), which comprises over 350 prominent Israeli rabbis, Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein (Likud) affirmed that peace negotiations with no backing from the other side is a dangerous thing.
"There is no doubt in my mind that empty words like 'negotiations' or 'peace agreement' that have no backing other than preparedness by Israel to concede without getting anything in return is futile," wrote Edelstein.
The MK continued "certainly, from a strategic point of view such declarations can weaken our position against terror elements and extreme Islamists who refuse to accept our presence here as a sovereign nation."
The last coalition government embarked on nine months of peace talks that were torpedoed by the Palestinian Authority (PA) in April, and in the process released 78 terrorists, many of them in jail for murder, as a "gesture." The government also instituted a freeze on Jewish construction in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem that has continued, even after the collapse of the talks.
Edelstein wrote in response to RCP's campaign calling on the government to officially condemn the policy of land withdrawals as a "fatal mistake," citing the blatant example of Gaza where Hamas took control thanks to the 2005 Disengagement plan.
Commenting on Edelstein's response, RCP Chairman Rabbi Yosef Gerlitzky said Edelstein in essence acknowledged the precept of Jewish law stated in the formative legal text Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim, 329), stating that surrendering land increases danger to human life and advising Israel to adopt this Jewish law as the state's guideline for peace and security.
In addition to stating regret for past agreements and withdrawals, Rabbi Gerlitzky called on the government to officially state it will refrain from negotiations suggesting future withdrawals.
"When dealing with Jewish Law there is no left or right,” said RCP Director Rabbi Abraham S. Lewin.
Remarking on the upcoming March 17 elections, the rabbi added "when entering the polling station to vote one must consider only one thing, will your vote help to prevent the establishment of a government that will continue negotiations on further withdrawals and concessions to enemies of Israel which is a danger to life."
"We will bring this basic principle to the attention of every Jew in Israel and pray that the future government will be a stronger government that will follow the instructions of the Torah, thereby we will merit the promise in the Torah 'I will grant peace in the land,'" said Rabbi Lewin.