Netanyahu - AP - May 30, 2011
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Photo by AP
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to the arrest of Rabbi Dov Lior on Tuesday, saying that “Israel is a law-abiding state”. He added that “the law includes everyone and I call on all Israel’s citizens to uphold it.”

Lior was arrested, questioned, and released on Monday after refusing to appear for an inquiry for his endorsement of the controversial book, “Torat Hamelech”, which justifies killing non-Jews.

Netanyahu refrained from commenting on several contentious issues in his statement, including the fact that Lior evaded arrest for two months before he was brought in by police for questioning. Also notably missing from his statement was an endorsement of Deputy State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan, who has come under harsh criticism from Israel’s right for steps taken against Lior.

Earlier on Tuesday, opposition leader Tzipi Livni attacked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for not supporting law enforcement and justice officials. "How do you not defend the officials in the Justice Ministry who are working to uphold the law, while there is severe incitement against them from the outside?" Livni asked.

"No one likes to see a rabbi arrested, including me," Livni said. "And I also don't like to see a prime minister under investigation or a president going to prison, but Israel must maintain itself as a law-abiding country where everyone is equal before the law."

Justice department officials have also come to Nitzan’s defense, writing in a letter that "in a law-abiding state, where a president, prime ministers, ministers and MKs, religious leaders and senior public figure have been questioned, no one is above the law.

The officials emphasized that for a long time there have been negotiations with the rabbi's aides in an attempt to bring him to questioning in a dignified and quiet way. "These attempts were rejected, so there was no choice but to issue the arrest warrant," they wrote.

The deparment officials condemned right-wing attempts to slander Nitzan’s name, commending him as a “fair, devoted and faithful public service member.”