JERUSALEM – Prime Minister Ariel Sharon met Tuesday with leaders of the Chabad-Lubativch Hasidic movement, known as a staunch opponent of the upcoming Gaza and northern West Bank pullout.
Lubavitch members have already engaged in road-blocking anti-pullout protests in Israel as well as anti-disengagement demonstrations overseas.
The Chabad delegation was headed by Rabbi Yehuda Leib Gruner, who arrived directly from New York Tuesday morning. During the session, the Lubavitch rabbis expressed their opposition to the pullout and attempted to convince Sharon to annul it.
Activists interrupted Sharon’s speech in New York
While the leaders reaffirmed their opposition to the plan, they also stressed they oppose any violence in the framework of anti-pullout protests. The representatives also told Sharon they wish to undo the damage caused by more radical Chabad members who belong to the movement’s “messianic” branch.
“We oppose the disengagement…but we would not agree to the Chabad name being used and to deviations from Chabad’s codes of conduct, which stipulate that protest is only expressed…peacefully.”
In the beginning of the month, Chabad activists blocked the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv Highway to protest the pullout. Large police forces were dispatched to the scene and arrested 10 protesters.
About a month ago, Lubavitch activists interrupted Prime Minister Sharon’s speech in New York with jeers and insults.
At this time it is still unclear which line the Chabad-Lubavitch movement would adopt once disengagement rolls around. The movement’s leadership is considered moderate, but the more radical branch has vowed to thwart the pullout and has called on soldiers to refuse evacuation orders.