Netanyahu on Lior arrest: The law applies to everyone

Justice Ministry says "all must obey a police summons when requested;" condemns "damaging personal attacks against Shai Nitzan."

June 28, 2011 19:16
2 minute read.
Rabbi Lior speaking at yeshiva

Rabbi Lior speaking at yeshiva. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)


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Prime Minister Binaymin Netanyahu on Tuesday addressed the arrest of Kiryat Arba Chief Rabbi Dov Lior and the protests that followed, saying, "Israel is a lawful state, the law applies to everyone and I call on all Israeli citizens to obey the law."

Lior was arrested and released Monday afternoon as part of an investigation over his endorsement of a book that purportedly incites violence entitled, Torat Hamelekh (King’s Torah).

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Hundreds demonstrated the arrest in Jerusalem, including outside the Supreme Court. Following confrontations with police, 25 protesters were arrested.

Kadima condemned as "fearful and weak" Netanyahu's response to the arrest of Lior.

"After a thundering and embarrassing silence that lasted all day Netanyahu utters a pile of words that says nothing and does not support the rule of law as the prime minister of Israel should be expected to do. Netanyahu deals with narrow political considerations," a statement by the opposition party asserted.

The Justice Ministry on Tuesday released a statement saying that the detention order against Lior was issued with full knowledge of the government's legal adviser and the attorney general after Lior failed to obey a police summons.

The ministry used the statement to respond to critics, emphasizing that "in a lawful country, where the president, prime minister, members of Knesset and other distinguished public figures have been investigated, no one is above the law and all must obey a police summons when requested."

According to the statement, several discussions were held with the aim of allowing the rabbi to attend questioning in a discrete way, but when these attempts were met with a negative response, they were left with no option other than to issue an arrest warrant.

The Justice Ministry also condemned what it called "damaging personal attacks directed against the Deputy State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan" and registered its disappointment with "repeated attempts to discredit his work."

Earlier Tuesday, police were in a state of high alert due to concerns of another day of possible protests over Lior's arrest. On Monday hundreds demonstrated in Jerusalem, including outside Nitzan's home.

Rabbi Lior was pulled over Monday afternoon as part of an investigation over his endorsement of a book that purportedly incites violence entitled, Torat Hamelekh (King’s Torah). The 2009 book by Yitzhak Shapira gives Jews permission to preemptively kill gentiles if they feel threatened.

On Monday night following his release, Lior was greeted by his supporters and went on to address a packed central study hall at the Merkaz Harav Yeshiva in Jerusalem’s Kiryat Moshe neighborhood, saying "the Torah does not need anyone’s approval.”

The treatment of Lior has come under fire by many, including Religious Services Minister Yaakov Margi (Shas), and dozens of Knesset members, who issued a letter to Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman, calling him to disperse “the Shai Nitzan gang” for the manner they arrested the rabbi.

Tovah Lazaroff, Jonah Mandel, Yaakov Lappin and Melanie Lidman contributed to this report.

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