Photo Credit: Hillel Maeir/TPS
Chief rabbi of Tsfat Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu

The Rabbinical Congress for Peace (RCP), with more than 400 Israeli Orthodox rabbis, on Wednesday stated it “unequivocally rejects President Trump’s Deal of the Century.”

The rabbis stated that Jewish Law prohibits any declaration of territorial concession, whether now or in the future, even when accompanied by strict conditions and restrictions, and that such concessions create dangerous situations on the ground, in direct contradiction to halacha.

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The rabbis expressed their shock at the Israeli government’s agreement to the establishment of a future Palestinian state, with eastern Jerusalem as its capital.

“No one knows what will happen four years from now in the Middle East. However, one thing will be remembered: that Israel already stated that in principle, East Jerusalem will be the capital of the Palestinian state,” they said.

At a special meeting held Wednesday, the RCP rabbis announced: “Jewish Law, in the Shulchan Aruch (§329:6) determines that if foreigners enter the Land even on ‘business related to straw,’ that is, not to incite violence (but to steal something of little value from border communities), Jews are nonetheless obligated to wage war against them, even on Shabbat, so that no Jewish territories will be ceded to them.

The RCP thanked President Trump for his unprecedented kind treatment “of the Jewish people and the Land of Israel. There is no question that his intentions are pure. Our claims are against the Prime Minister and the weak Israeli leadership, who, instead of taking advantage of this rare period in history, graced by heaven’s compassion, run joyfully forward to announce their agreement, in principle, with the formation of a Palestinian state and territorial concessions, the outcome of which no one can yet imagine.”

“Why all the celebration? What exactly did we achieve?” Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, chief rabbi of Tsfat, asked. “They managed to completely confuse the nation. The only one who is really celebrating is Mahmoud Abbas. He got what he wanted and will continue to demand more and more. The establishment of a Palestinian state is worse than the disengagement from Gush Katif.”

RCP Chairman Rabbi Joseph Gerlitzky, chief rabbi of central Tel Aviv, said that, based on past experience, any declarations of future Israeli concessions automatically becomes the starting point for further negotiations. “There is no question that from the perspective of the international community, and certainly from the perspective of the Arab states, the maps presented by Trump and the establishment of a Palestinian state are already accepted facts. Israel declared them so itself. Palestinian demands will be even greater in the future, and will undoubtedly be accompanied by a wave of terror, God forbid.”

“We seem to be repeating the same mistake as Oslo,” commented RCP Secretary-General Rabbi Abraham Shmuel Lewin. “The PLO was then in a state of total collapse, and Israel revitalized them. Today as well, the Palestinian Authority—Israel’s bitter enemy—is also in a state of collapse and are ignored by the entire world, including the other Arab nations. Yet now, Israel has not only returned them to center-stage, they have promised them a state! Sovereignty is worth nothing if it requires us to retreat from areas under Israeli control and to endanger the entire country. There is no question that any territories that lack a full Israeli presence immediately become a haven for terrorists.”

Rabbi Abraham Schreiber, rabbi of the Gush Katif community, announced that his community would oppose the Trump plan, saying: “Any plan that entails a weakening of Israel’s position leads inexorably to further concessions and renewed threats. This is the beginning of a destruction whose end we cannot foresee.”

Rabbi Schreiber added that the strange “euphoria” and “messianic atmosphere” that the Prime Minister is trying to create is only a smokescreen that is hiding much greater concessions, which have not yet been revealed to the public.

Rabbi Elyakim Levanon, regional rabbi of Samaria and the rabbi of the Elon Moreh Community, said: “We thank President Trump for his wonderful friendship with the people of Israel. We can now declare Jewish sovereignty over the entire Land of Israel, without the need to make dangerous concessions and foolish declarations. However, we, the members of the Rabbinical Congress, will fight tooth and nail against the Deal of the Century, and have only one declaration to make, which will certainly receive President Trump’s backing, if it is stated clearly and unequivocally: There will never be a Palestinian state, and Israel will never withdraw from any territory that is part of the Holy Land.”

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