The chairman of the Yesha rabbinical council and chief rabbi of Kiryat Arba, Rabbi Dov Lior, on Wednesday issued a halakhic ruling stating that it is forbidden by Jewish law to employ Arabs or rent homes to them.

In an interview published by "Eretz Israel Shelanu" (Our Land of Israel), to be distributed this Saturday in various synagogues, Lior said that "since this is a matter of endangering souls, it is clear that it is completely forbidden to employ them and rent houses to them in Israel. Their employment is forbidden not only at yeshivas, but at factories, hotels and everywhere."

In the interview, Rabbi Lior backed the decision made by the administration of the Mercaz Harav yeshiva in Jerusalem to prevent Prime Minister Ehud Olmert from visiting the school after an Israeli Arab terrorist killed eight students there two weeks ago. "How can you welcome a man who acts against our holy Torah and continues to lead the people of Israel toward great danger?" Lior said.

"They were right in refusing to welcome such a personality in the yeshiva's halls," he added.

Rabbi Lior criticized the rabbis who didn't obey Rabbi Abraham Shapira, who instructed Jewish soldiers to refuse orders during the 2005 withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. "If the public had ignored the so-called "rabbis" who came out against these instructions, we may very well have spared the great pain [of the disengagement] from the people of Israel," he said.

Recently, several rabbis led by Rabbi Lior have issued a precedent setting halakhic ruling that Israel must shoot civilian populations in areas from whence attacks on Jewish communities originate.

Attorney Einat Horvitz from the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism said in response to the interview that "we view with great concern the wave of calls against Arabs since the terrible terror attack. This is an ever growing phenomenon of racist incitement that distorts Judaism and is also illegal. We call upon the attorney general to shake off his apathy and take action to enforce the laws that prohibit these calls."