Rabbi Aryeh Stern, Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi of Jerusalem, on Wednesday issued an unprecedented halachic ruling that the State of Israel has an obligation to help free PA Arabs who have been imprisoned for selling land to Jews.
Rabbi Stern wrote that the obligation for freeing imprisoned Jews also applies to Arabs who were jailed for selling land to Jews.
Stern’s ruling, in a letter he sent to Lt. Col. (res.) Baruch Yedid, head of the Arab Affairs desk at the Zionist movement Im Tirtzu, came in response to the recent abduction of Issam Akel, a resident of Jerusalem who was arrested by the Palestinian General Security Service on suspicion of selling land to Jews.
“Great efforts must be made to free the abducted [Issam Akel], because he is suspected of selling property to Jews, and anyone who is involved in this plays a part in the commandment to settle the Land of Israel. Efforts to secure his release will encourage others not to be deterred or refrain from selling land, because they’ll know that they would be protected from anyone who seeks to harm them.”
Yedid welcomed the letter, which he said was a historic and brave move by the chief rabbi.
“For the first time, a significant figure in the rabbinical institution is intervening on behalf of the Palestinians who have become targets for the Palestinian Authority in the capital,” said Yedid.
“We hope that these words will lead to action and that the rest of the authorities in Israel will act in this spirit and put an end to Palestinian lawlessness in Jerusalem. The authorities must provide protection to Israeli residents and assert de facto sovereignty,” Yedid said.