TEL AVIV – A group of hundreds of prominent Israeli rabbis today urged veteran politician Shimon Peres to immediately “repent” for calling on the Jewish state to evacuate strategic territory the they fear will be used by terrorists to attack Israel.
Peres officially was installed as Israeli president earlier this week. Upon his inauguration, he immediately stated Israel must withdraw from the West Bank, which borders Jerusalem and is within rocket range of Tel Aviv and Israel’s international airport.
“We call on Shimon Peres to publicly retract his ‘shameful’ remarks on the day of his inauguration calling for Israel to ‘rid itself of the territories,’ referring to the biblical Judea and Samaria (West Bank),” read a statement by the Rabbinical Congress for Peace, a coalition of more than 350 Israeli rabbinic leaders and pulpit rabbis.
“Our sages tell us in the Talmud that when a person assumes an exalted position, all of his sins previously committed are forgiven. But you, Mr. Peres, missed the opportunity to rectify your historical blunders when you declared so blindly that Israel must rid itself of the territories. You caused tremendous damage not only to Jews in Israel but to the status of the Jewish people the world over.”
The rabbis called on Peres to “repent, stand up and proclaim with authentic Jewish pride that you no longer support the hazardous and futile formula of ‘territory for peace.'”
The rabbinic leaders blasted Peres for leading the 1993 Oslo Accords, in which Israel evacuated strategic territory in exchange for pledges from the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to refrain from terror and make peace with the Jewish state.
“Today it is crystal clear to everyone the Oslo Accords and Israeli evacuations lead to spilling of Jewish blood in all parts of Israel. This is exactly why the Jewish Code of Law forbids Jews to give up a border town – it opens the way for enemies to conquer the land,” the rabbis stated.
Last Sunday Peres assumed the role of president, a largely ceremonial position. But political analysts and pundits here widely expect him to take a hands-on role in Israeli diplomacy and policy making.
According to Knesset sources, Peres is contemplating asking lawmakers to officially expand the role of the president to include conducting foreign policy.
Already Peres today called for direct negotiations with Syria, which is hosting top Palestinian terror leaders and supporting the Lebanese Hezbollah militia, which last summer launched thousands of rockets into Israeli population centers. Syrian President Bashar Assad warned several times the past few months his country is preparing for war.
Peres, Israel’s longest standing Knesset member, was considered the driving force of the 1993 Oslo Accords. The Peres Peace Center, headed by the new president, advocates the division of Jerusalem and Israeli withdrawals from the strategic West Bank and Golan Heights.
Peres repeatedly has come under fire by critics for policies and plans many say would greatly undermine Israel’s security if implemented.
An official biography of the elderly statesman released earlier this year, entitled “Shimon Peres,” revealed a draft agreement he hammered out with West Germany in 1961 to allow the creation of German military bases on Israeli soil less than two decades after the Holocaust.
The biography also detailed a controversial plan Peres concocted to lease French Guyana from France and create an Israeli colony there at a time when the nine-year-old Israel was desperate for immigrants and struggling to establish itself.
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