Several thousand men and women gathered at the Western Wall on Thursday afternoon for a mass prayer rally against the ongoing negotiations between Israel and the PLO.
Kommemiut, a group devoted to the preservation of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and the Golan Heights, organized the event. Participants included Construction and Housing Minister Uri Ariel, Deputy Religious Services Minister Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan and MK Orit Struck, all from the Tekuma party, a constituent of the Bayit Yehudi Knesset faction. MK Moti Yogev (Bayit Yehudi) was also in attendance.
The prayers were led by senior national-religious leaders Rabbis Haim Druckman, Shmuel Eliyahu and Dov Lior.
Ben-Dahan also led part of the extensive prayer service.
Before the service, Ben-Dahan told The Jerusalem Post that the emerging details of an outline plan being proposed by US Secretary of State John Kerry were unacceptable.
“We cannot agree to any deal that includes the establishment of a Palestinian state and the expulsion of Jews from their homes,” said Ben-Dahan.
The service at the Western Wall lasted for more than an hour, with the thousands of attendees fervently repeating the prayers read over loud speakers, to the accompaniment of trumpet blasts.
Eliyahu, the chief rabbi of Safed and a controversial figure from the conservative wing of the national-religious movement, helped devise the prayer service for the event and implored those at the rally to cry from their hearts to God.
The head of Eliyahu’s office told the Post that the purpose of the gathering was “to unite the community of those who love the Torah and the Land of Israel against an agreement with an enemy that does not want peace but seeks to destroy the Jewish people.”
“Kerry doesn’t understand the reality here, the problem is much deeper than he thinks. Unfortunately, we are already experienced with what happens when we give up land to the Arabs, and we don’t wish to see more rockets fired at Israel,” he said.
“We have to rouse the people through prayer against this tragedy, and against the expulsion of Jews from their homes.”
Meretz chairwoman Zehava Gal-on spoke out harshly against the prayer rally and the participation of Bayit Yehudi politicians.
“The ministers and MKs of Bayit Yehudi are not just a messianic and extremist group that, within the government, promotes a frightening apartheid vision, but also – and even principally – is a shameless and hypocritical coterie that has sat for a year on the levers of economic power [including] the Ministries of Housing [and] the Economy, the Knesset Finance Committee and the Israel Lands Authority, and protests at every opportunity against the decisions of the government that it itself is a partner in,” Gal-on said in a statement to the press.