Rightist rabbis brand gov't policy on settlements worse than White Paper

Leading settlement rabbis met at Hebron's disputed Beit Hashalom.

Leading settlement rabbis met at Hebron's disputed Beit Hashalom on Monday to declare the government's anti-settlement policies to be "worse than the British Mandate's White Paper." Hebron-Kiryat Arba Chief Rabbi Dov Lior and other members of the Land of Israel's Rabbinic Union rejected the government's promise to dismantle unauthorized outposts in Judea and Samaria. "Political leaders who lack religious faith have become weak and have distorted history," said Lior. "But I say to you that from this house a light of faith will go out to the entire Land of Israel." The other rabbis at the Sunday event included: Ya'acov Shapira, head of Jerusalem's Mercaz Harav Yeshiva; Elyakim Levanon, rabbi of Elon Moreh in Samaria; and Nahum Rabinovitch, head of the Birkat Moshe Hesder Yeshiva in Ma'aleh Adumim. All signed off on a declaration calling on soldiers to refuse orders to aid in the dismantling of settlements. (The White Paper of 1939 issued by the British government under prime minister Neville Chamberlain set a limit of 75,000 Jewish immigrants to Mandatory Palestine for 1940-1944; after this cut-off date, further immigration would depend on the permission of the Arab population, and restrictions were placed on the rights of Jews to buy land from Arabs.) Beit Hashalom, a four-story building housing 25 families located between Hebron and Kiryat Arba, has been the focus of a legal battle between the state and Hebron's Jewish community. The state claims that the settlers cannot live there without the permission of the Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria. The settlers say they have proof that they purchased the structure for $700,000.