Rabbi Dov Lior
Photo: Noam Moskowitz

Justice Ministry: Rabbis not above law

In unusual move, ministry issues statement responding to upheaval which followed arrest of Kiryat Arba's chief rabbi

The controversy about the arrest of Kiryat Arba's chief Rabbi Dov Lior is still raging: The harsh criticism the arrest has come under prompted the Justice Ministry – in a highly unusual move – to issues a statement stressing that "no one in Israel is above the law."


The statement said that police asked Rabbi Lior, who is perhaps the most influential figure within the national religious community, to report to questioning voluntarily, but he refused.



Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch seconded the prosecution's message, and reiterated that "no one is above the law".


"We have one state and one police force, and civil servants and police officers are public officials, not enemies of the state," he told northern residents on a tour of two Galilee towns.


Monday's arrest incurred the fury of the rabbi's supporters, who rioted and blocked roads in Jerusalem. Twenty-five people were arrested, but one of the rabbi's followers described the events as "a successful display of power."


He said that had the rabbi been remanded the protest would have turned into a rebellion, adding that the sector's yeshiva heads have given the religious public "a free hand" in the matter.


"In a law-abiding state, where the president, prime ministers, Knesset members, ministers and clergymen, as well as prominent public figures, have been questioned by the police, no one is above the law and no one can exempt themselves from the obligation to adhere to a police warrant," said the Justice Ministry's statement.


The arrest warrant issued against Lior was sanctioned by the Attorney General's Office and the State Prosecutor's Office, it added.


"The Attorney General's Office was in contact with various elements and suggested the rabbi report for questioning of his own accord, in a quiet, dignified manner, but our attempts were refused, leaving us no choice but to issue an arrest warrant."


Both Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein and State Prosecutor Moshe Lador denounced the public backlash against Deputy State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan, who heads all cases of offenses pertaining to freedom of speech, such as sedition and incitement to violence.


"We regret to see the repetitive attempts to attribute political motives to the work of a devoted public servant such as Attorney Nitzan," said the statement.


Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch also commented on the case: "We are a law-abiding state where all are equal before law and no man is above the law.


"We have one state and one police force and I condemn any attack on public figures, state employees and police officers. They are public servants and not public enemies".




פרסום ראשון: 06.28.11, 14:13
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