Statement on Knesset’s Move to Annex West Bank Settlement and Imperil the Peace Process

RELEASE DATE: December 7, 2016

T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call For Human Rights, representing 1,800 rabbis and cantors across North America, expresses deep regret and concern that the Knesset has moved to annex the West Bank settlement of Amona, thereby extraordinarily diminishing, if not extinguishing, the prospects for a peaceful, two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The bill’s champion Naftali Bennett heralded the death blow to the peace process, saying, “Today, the Israeli Knesset shifted from a path to establish a Palestinian state to a path of extending sovereignty to

Judea and Samaria. Let there be no doubt: the regulation bill is what will spearhead the extension of sovereignty.”

Bennett’s reckless position was even opposed by normally pro-settlement figures like Benyamin Netanyahu for blocking the road to a peaceful resolution to the conflict.

Annexing the West Bank settlement would constitute a dangerous step toward making permanent an occupation that violates the human rights of Palestinians and endangers the lives of Israelis.

The annexation and expansion of settlements, as well as the military occupation, violate international human rights law and the Jewish insistence on treating every single person as an equal creation in the

image of God.

The current Israeli government’s insistence on prioritizing settlement annexation and building over human life violates Jewish law and values. In 1967, Rabbi Joseph Dov Soloveitchik, the preeminent American Orthodox rabbi of the twentieth century, wrote:

One does not have to be a rabbi or a posek to know that the Land of Israel was granted to us in its entirety…However, there is another halakhah klalit–that preservation of a single life pushes aside the entire Torah, and this is certainly true regarding the preservation of two and a half million Jews, may they multiply…Historical sentiments, without accounting for reasons and considerations of defense, are not binding with regards to the question of the safety of the state and its inhabitants…It is prohibited for Rabbis or anyone else to declare in the name of the Torah that it is forbidden to return any part of the land, when stable peace can save the lives of thousands and ten thousands of our brethren who dwell in Zion.

At a time when the Israeli and Palestinian people most need their leaders to restore trust and move towards real diplomacy, Israel should not walk away from its commitment to a lasting peace.