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An association of Israeli rabbis recently wrote U.S. President George Bush and asked him to cancel his planned visit to Israel next week.

The group, called the Rabbinical Congress for Peace - Pikuach Nefesh ("saving lives"), comprises hundreds of rabbis, including municipal rabbis and members of the Chief Rabbinate's supreme rabbinical council. However, its dominant faction is a group of Chabad rabbis.

In their letter, the rabbis wrote that the Israeli media and other parties have interpreted the visit as being intended to pressure Israel to cancel various security measures that make life difficult for Palestinians and to carry out a major evacuation of West Bank settlements, steps that would "directly cost the lives of hundreds of Jews."

The group also issued a religious ruling declaring that "the Olmert government, this evil government, has no right to exist; it must be abolished and disappear from this world."

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