Direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians are nearing, but in Jerusalem, voices of war can still be heard. Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef Saturday night wished death on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his people, who he called "evil enemies of Israel."
During his weekly lesson, held at the synagogue near his house in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Har-Nof, the rabbi mentioned the blessing said at the Rosh Hashana feast that says, "May our enemies and adversaries be destroyed", and applied it to the current situation. "Abu Mazen (Abbas) and all those evil men – may they perish from this world. May God Almighty strike them and these Palestinians."
As Shas' spiritual leader, Yosef's words are another indication of the party's leaning right. Just last week, Chairman Eli Yishai said he would firmly object to an extension of the settlement construction freeze in the West Bank. He also said he was hanging no hopes on the renewed negotiations because he does not foresee in the near future a Palestinian government with which an agreement can be reached.
A senior official in the Palestinian Authority refused to comment on Yosef's remarks and told Ynet, "Even in Israel they have stopped paying attention to him."
Yosef and the Palestinians
This is not the first time Shas' spiritual leader speaks out against the PA leadership and terror organizations. In an interview published in 2001 in London-based al-Sharq al-Awsat and Kuwaiti paper al-Watan, he said, "I deeply regret the human suffering caused to innocents, but the source of this should be pinned on the Palestinian leadership.
"The struggle against extremist fanatics on all sides is a supreme obligation placed on all leaders…During this past year and prior, acts of murder and terror have been committed by murderers coming from the Palestinian Authority, which have left hundreds of victims and destroyed whole families.
"It is especially bad that these criminals and their operators pretend to be 'martyrs'. This is a despicable abomination and act of heresy, there is no greater desecration than this… in order to ready the ground for dialogue and renewed negotiations, all acts of violence must cease at once, and they must return to dialogue, but in the reality of blood and fire and pillars of smoke, there is no place for negotiations."
The Shas spiritual leader also sent messages of reconciliation in the interview: "The religious leaders play an important role in stopping the escalation and prevent bloodshed. All religions emphasize the value of the sanctity of human life. In Judaism it is said on this matter that, 'Beloved are human beings who were created in the image of God'… the yearning for peace is a main principle in Judaism.
"On the principle plane, I have given a halachic ruling in the past which I will repeat today: We should strive for peace and security even at the cost of land concessions. This is in line with the Jewish principle of 'pikuach nefesh' (saving of human life), which puts the value of human life above all other religious principles."
It should be noted that in 2005 the Jerusalem District Court convicted a Palestinian resident of Isawiya of trying to assassinate Rabbi Yosef. Musa Darwish was convicted as part of a plea bargain, in which he confessed to planning the assassination.
Ali Waked contributed to this report
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