Israel News for November 29, 2016

PM Warns Cabinet
PM Netanyahu warned cabinet ministers that passing the “regulations bill”, which would retroactively legalize settlements built on private Palestinian land, would possibly lead to Israel being taken before the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague. The bill is being spearheaded by the Bayit Yehudi party in order to prevent the evacuation of the Amona outpost, which is schedule to take place on December 25th.

The PM also warned that the bill could provoke outgoing US President Obama to act against Israel at the UN. The Attorney General has already warned that the bill, if passed, would be struck down by the Supreme Court. Instead he presented a compromise by which Amona would be moved to several nearby plots of land for eight months, during which time planning and construction officials would work alongside legal experts to find nearby available land to permanently move the outpost to. At the same time the AG would explore other solutions to deal with land ownership issues. But he stressed that the compromise agreement can only be implemented if the regulations bill does not pass. The compromise agreement will also need to be approved by the Supreme Court.

Bayit Yehudi leaders are pushing forward with the bill. The Amona residents rejected any sort of compromise and have pledged to resist the evacuation.

Meanwhile, 120 senior rabbis have issued a statement calling on the public to come to Amona to passively resist the upcoming evacuation. The rabbis include Rabbi Haim Druckman, head of the Bnei Akiva yeshivas, Rabbi Yaakov Ariel, the chief rabbi of Ramat Gan, Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, the chief rabbi of Tzfat, Rabbi Dov Lior, the chief rabbi of Kiryat Arba, Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, the head of the Ateret Cohanim yeshiva, Tzohar chairman Rabbi David Stav, Rabbi Avigdor Nebenzahl, the chief rabbi of the Old City of Jerusalem, and Rabbi Nachum Rabinowitz, the head of the Maaleh Adumim yeshiva.

The rabbis wrote, “We call on all those who can to come and stay in the community. Our presences will give strength to the residents and be a clear declaration to the decision-makers that we are with the residents of Amona in every way during this difficult time, and we will continue to be with them until the Regulation Law is enacted, and Amona is saved. If, heaven forbid, the day comes for an expulsion, we urge the public to continue living in the community, and protesting vigorously the destruction of the community, through passive resistance and non-violence.”

The rabbis also called on the PM to assure that the law is passed.

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Rabbi Cleared
Last week the Supreme Court ordered Rabbi Eyal Karim, the incoming IDF Chief Rabbi, to clarify controversial statements that he made in the past before being allowed to take on his new position. The court made its ruling based on a petition submitted by Meretz MKs who accused Karim of making discriminatory statements against homosexuals and women, including permitting rape during war.

Karim submitted an affidavit to the court in which he said that he never permitted rape and that he believed that all people should be treated equally, with dignity, regardless of their sexual orientation. Karim said, “Every rabbi, whether he be a teacher or a public official is required to be capable of retracting and admitting a mistake. I am not afraid to say that I was wrong. I was wrong in that I thought briefly about complicated questions which have more to them than just one halachic (Jewish legal) stance. I was wrong in that I didn’t clarify my words accurately and there were those who were hurt by them. I have already whole-heartedly apologized for this.”

Based on Karim’s statement, the court dismissed the ruling against him and permitted him to take his new position. The Meretz MKs praised the courts intervention saying, “We respect the High Court for standing by its promise to clarify Rabbi Karim’s words, and we respect the decision not to cancel the appointment. We are pleased the judges didn’t reject the petition without reason, and we are sure this ruling was justifiably detailed, and that the verdict will be quoted from in the future.”

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Kotel Bill
Shas (the haredi sephardic party) has proposed a new bill in the Knesset that would place the southern area of the Kotel under the auspices of the Chief Rabbinate. The government has already agreed to turn the area in question into an egalitarian prayer space as part of a compromise agreement reached with leaders of the Reform and Conservative movements. The new bill would destroy that agreement, since the Chief Rabbinate would not permit any non orthodox forms of prayer.

The proposed bill prohibits mixed gender prayer services at the site. It also prohibits women from wearing prayer shawls or tefillin, and sets a fine of 10,000 shekels for violators.

Non orthodox leaders have attacked the bill and urged PM Netanyahu to defeat it and uphold the compromise agreement he approved.

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