Knesset to Debate Rabbi's 'Rodef' Remarks

The Knesset will hold a special debate next week in the wake of a top Jerusalem rabbi's remark that anyone who wants to cede the land of Israel is like a "rodef," who can be killed according to Jewish law, Army Radio reported Wednesday.

Earlier Wednesday, the radio reported that MKs Eitan Cabel (Labor) and Avshalom Vilan (Meretz-Yahad) asked the attorney general to open an investigation into the rabbi of the Old City of Jerusalem, Rabbi Avigdor Neventzal, who made the comments Tuesday.

"It should be known that anyone who wants to give away Israeli land is like a rodef, and certainly land should not be given to idol worshipers," Neventzal said. However, he also said it is impossible to issue a rodef ruling today.

A public storm erupted nine years ago when West Bank and Gaza Strip rabbis debated before the 1995 assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin whether he should be subjected to "din rodef" - the Jewish law of rodef, which literally means one who chases and refers to a license to kill someone who intends to kill someone else.

This is the first time that din rodef has been mentioned again by a respectable rabbi in the context of giving away Israeli lands.

Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized the rabbi's comments Wednesday, telling Israel Radio that no one can act above the law.

"This is something that must not be done - we are a law-abiding country and if we make difficult choices from a national standpoint, we accept them in a democratic and law-abiding manner.

"There is no possibility [for anyone] to be above the law," he said.

The Yesha rabbi's committee chairman, Rabbi Dov Lior, said Tuesday that secular Zionism has reached the end of its way, and that the settlers are today's Hasmonaens.

Lior said that religious Zionism educates its sons to serve in the army and obey orders, but when orders opposing the way of the Torah are given, like uprooting settlements and giving land to strangers, "the Knesset, government and even the High Court of Justice have no say."