Bayit Yehudi MKs.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Some of the most senior religious-Zionist rabbis have implicitly criticized the Bayit Yehudi Party for not including the Amona settlement outpost in the settlement arrangements bill, declaring: “There is no place for compromises over the Land of Israel.”
Rabbi Dov Lior, Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem Aryeh Stern, Rabbis Haim Shteiner, Elyakim Levanon and David Hai Hacohen were all party to the declaration issued on Sunday by the Derech Emunah rabbinical association.
The criticism comes after the government decided to remove Amona from the settlements arrangement bill. The proposed legislation was approved in its first reading last week. If given ultimate approval by the Knesset, it would retroactively legalize almost 4,000 settler homes built on private Palestinian property in the West Bank.
Amona was excluded from the bill so as to not to deliberately circumvent High Court of Justice rulings that ordered the outpost demolished and its 40 families evacuated by December 25.
In their declaration, the rabbis proclaimed, “The Land of Israel in its entirety belongs to the Jewish people since God’s oath to the forefathers,” and argued that the Jewish people have never relinquished its rights to the land or abandoned its hopes to return.
“This land was stolen from us by the hand of non-Jews... and so all those peoples who conquered it and settled it with non-Jews are thieves. We are the true owners, and any other claim is lies with nothing to stand on,” they wrote. “The uprooting of settlements from the land is a sin and a crime which has no justification.
These deeds are accompanied by thievery and oppression of entire families, men, women and children who settled with the permission of the government and gave decades of their lives to building a good life in the land.”
The rabbis concluded by stating: “There is no place for compromises over the Land of Israel.
Compromises are considered to be ‘a failure to acknowledge His land,’” a Talmudic reference to the negative consequences of disowning or abandoning the Land of Israel.
Bayit Yehudi was spurred into backing and fiercely lobbying for a legislative solution to Amona’s legal problems after 25 Likud MKs called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to advance and pass the settlements arrangements law.
Despite the approval of the bill in its first reading – which would represent a massive breakthrough for the settlement movement – Bayit Yehudi has still faced opposition from elements within its electorate over abandoning Amona, sentiment underlined by the declaration of the rabbis on Sunday.
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post, chairman of Derech Emunah Rabbi Baruch Efrati stridently opposed the way the bill had been achieved, comparing it to a form of bribery.
“You can’t bribe a judge to give a ruling even it is a just one, and you can’t use a bribe to legalize settlements when it means destroying another settlement,” he said.
Efrati said the principle of “the right of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel” was at stake, and that he believed the religious-Zionist community to be strong in solidarity against Amona’s destruction. “We all think that an injustice has been done here. You can’t stand by and watch the destruction of people’s homes.”
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