West Bank construction 311.
(photo credit: Miri Tzachi)
The West Bank partial building moratorium expires in fewer than three weeks, but even without anticipated obstacles from Labor Party ministers, those seeking to start building immediately on September 26 seemed likely to face an additional obstacle – tradition. But Likud MK Danny Danon revealed Tuesday that he had taken the pre-emptive step of ensuring that traditional Jews would be comfortable initiating building projects, despite the fact that the moratorium is expected to conclude during one of the interim days of the Sukkot festival.
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Danon told the Jerusalem Post that he had requested a special dispensation from Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar clarifying that it was permissible to engage in building projects during the interim days of the festival. During interim days of week-long festivals Sukkot and Passover, traditional Jews try to reduce their work burden as much as possible to increase the celebratory atmosphere.
Danon said that he had been approached by a number of Likud activists who had expressed their concern that the festival might provide an easy excuse for officials to not resume building in the West Bank immediately following the moratorium order’s expiration.
In light of those concerns, Danon said, he turned to Rabbi Amar and requested him to clarify his legal opinion on the subject of resuming building. The two met last Thursday in Rabbi Amar’s office, and the rabbi, considered to be one of Israel’s leading Sephardi rabbinic authorities, published his ruling that “it is a mitzvah [positive act] to build on the 18th of Tishrei”, the Jewish date of the order’s expiration.
“Although it is said that one must minimize labor on the interim
festival days, it has already been ruled that the mitzvah of settling
the Land of Israel takes supremacy,” Amar’s ruling continued. “It is
known that due to the mitzvah of settling the land it is permissible
even to tell a non-Jew on the Sabbath to write a property contract, and
thus according to Jewish law it is permissible and even a good deed to
build new houses in Judea and Samaria, even on interim festival days.”
Danon welcomed the chief rabbi’s statement, in the hopes that it would
encourage people to build following the end of the freeze. “Every day of
the 305 days of the freeze stopped the development of the region and
thus we are obligated to take advantage of every possible day in order
to help bridge the gap and return development of Judea and Samaria to
it’s correct track,” Danon concluded.