Eldad: Ceding land punishable by death

At Golan lobby meeting, MK says such actions are treasonous; fellow MK Zevulun Orlev: I'm shocked.

arye eldad 224.88 (photo credit: Courtesy of the Knesset)
arye eldad 224.88
(photo credit: Courtesy of the Knesset)
Angry parliamentarians demanded on Monday that MK Arye Eldad (National Union) be investigated for criminal activity and incitement after he declared that "whoever gives up parts of the country should be sentenced to death." Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's actions regarding the negotiations with Syria over the return of the Golan Heights could be considered tantamount to treason, Eldad told The Jerusalem Post. "I was just quoting Israeli law," Eldad said during a Golan solidarity rally in Jerusalem on Monday night. He quoted the penal code of 1977, which states that it is treasonous to intentionally act to relinquish territory and hand it over to the sovereignty of another nation. The penalty for that is death or life imprisonment, he said. Eldad said he has asked Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz to investigate the matter and to determine whether or not Olmert's actions "could be defined as treason." Incidentally, he told the rally, he had said the same thing about Olmert's plans to divide Jerusalem but added that it didn't cause such an uproar then. "Maybe I have done Olmert a favor by shifting the focus away from his corruption charge," said Eldad. "But the real intention was to warn the decision-makers that Israel is not yours, it belongs to the nation." After Eldad made the initial comments during the meeting of a Knesset working group to oppose withdrawal from the Golan Heights, MK Ran Cohen (Meretz) submitted a request to Mazuz to consider a criminal probe against Eldad. "These despicable statements are reminiscent of the days before the murder of [former Prime Minister Yitzhak] Rabin and must not be heard," Cohen said. "Law enforcement authorities must prevent it, from public figures too." "Arye Eldad is a provocateur of the cheapest sort, who has no problem bringing down the social fabric in order to appear in the media and create a scandal," said coalition chairman MK Yoel Hasson (Kadima). "Through his reprehensible statement, he made himself a reprehensible figure." Condemnation of Eldad's comment was not just restricted to the left and the coalition. President Shimon Peres on Monday night issued a statement charging Eldad himself with incitement. Regardless of any political opinion, Peres said, no one in Israel has the right in the course of the political debate to use language that can lead to violence. Israeli values are based on democracy and Jewish morality is enshrined in the law, he said. MK Zevulun Orlev (NRP) lashed out at his fellow party member, writing to him that he "heard his statement with shock." "Before we have recovered as a society and a nation from the politically motivated murder of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, comes your call which gives approval for another political murder of a prime minister." Orlev wrote that despite Eldad's reference to treason laws, it was obvious that his comments could be interpreted as a call to assassinate the prime minister. This, he wrote, was completely unacceptable according to the law and Halacha and could lead to "the collapse of democracy." Likud MKs also hurried to distance themselves from Eldad's comments. "Eldad's comments were unacceptable and inappropriate," said party chairman MK Binyamin Netanyahu. "In a democracy, ideological disagreements are determined at a polling booth and not in any other way." Netanyahu called on Eldad to take back his statements. MK Reuven Rivlin echoed Netanyahu's call for Eldad to recant his statement, saying that such a cry could "bring about the destruction of the State of Israel." In the midst of the firestorm, the Prime Minister's Office remained restrained, merely saying that "the man and his comments are undeserving of a response." Greer Fay Cashman contributed to this report