Settler Rabbi: Peace Now Chief Should Be Jailed for Treason

Settler teens rampage through Palestinian neighborhood in Hebron, hurl rocks and vandalize property.

A far-right settler rabbi on Wednesday asserted that Peace Now Secretary General Yariv Oppenheimer deserves to be jailed on charges of treason.

Rabbi Dov Wolpe, the head of the right-wing movement Eretz Yisrael Shelanu (Our Israel), told Army Radio that, "in a normal country, a man like Oppenheimer - who urges the government to betray the people and the land, and to hand parts of it over to terrorists - would have been in jail."

Oppenheimer, who is running for Knesset on Labor's list, has petitioned the Central Elections Committee in a bid to ban Wolpe's movement from running in the oncoming elections, citing seditious comments attributed to the rabbi.

In his petition, Oppenheimer quoted Wolpe as saying amid the impending evacuation of settlers from the so-called "House of Contention" in Hebron that "the real enemy is the State of Israel, not the left-wing."

Also, during the disengagement from Gaza in 2005, Wolpe called on Israel Defense Forces soldiers to disobey orders to evacuate settlers, compared Sharon's regime to Nazi Germany, and said that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert "has Jewish blood on his hands."

Oppenheimer said on Wednesday that he intends to file a police complaint for incitement.

"The extreme right has reared its ugly head," he said. "We will not tolerate such comments."

Also Wednesday, some 40 settler teenagers rampaged in a Palestinian neighborhood in the West Bank city of Hebron, Israel Radio reported.

According to the radio report, the teens punctured the tires of Palestinian cars and Border Police patrol jeeps near the so-called "House of Contention," a building the High Court has ordered settlers to vacate.

The rioting settlers also hurled rocks at Palestinian houses and sprayed a Star of David on a wall.

No arrests were reportedly made in the incident.

Following the riot, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the government is determined to implement the High Court ruling on the disputed building.

The security forces have been preparing for a forcible evacuation in light of the settlers' refusal to leave voluntarily.

Olmert: We'll use force to stop settler violence

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, however, hinted on Tuesday that the government will not forcibly evacuate settlers from the "House of Contention," but will instead settle for preventing settler attacks on their Palestinian neighbors.

Speaking with reporters during his trip to Washington, Olmert said: "I read the High Court of Justice's decision closely. It ordered the house's occupants to vacate within three days, and if they do not, [it said], the government will have to do so. But it did not explicitly order the government to do so. There is something less than completely unequivocal in the wording the court chose."

However, he added, "The repeated attacks on Palestinian civilians and property are clearly intolerable, and we will have to act against them with full force."

It is still not clear when this evacuation will take place, if it does at all. Defense forces explained that they have received conflicting legal opinions as to whether it must be carried out within 30 days, and are therefore awaiting a definitive ruling from Attorney General Menachem Mazuz.

The army would prefer to wait longer, out of fear that carrying out the evacuation at the height of an election campaign, when the atmosphere is already heated, would lead to violence. Rightist MKs, for instance, have already announced that they plan to support the settlers. Barak will have to take this concern into account when deciding on a date for the evacuation.

If an evacuation is ordered, the army will try to prevent a clash by surprising the settlers. However, that will be difficult, because the operation will require large forces, making it hard to conceal from the settlers.