Havat Daat 5766 Av 9
The Sanhedrin, being the authorized institution to decide in military matters, issues definitive moral guidance on this matter and addresses the current administration's defense policy.
Informal translation from Hebrew of the 9 Av, 5766 (3 August, 2006) statement:
The Responsibility of the Prime Minister at Wartime
The Court received petitions from soldiers and citizens with the question:
How is it proper to act after the words of the Prime Minister who announced in public that one of the goals of the war is to change the face of the Middle East per his outlook, and setting of permanent borders with the Palestinians by means of his plan known as the Convergence Plan, which is tantamount to evacuating dozens of communities from Judea and Samaria, their destruction, and the exile of their residents. That is to say that victory at war will lead to execution of the convergence idea.
The halacha rules that during an obligatory, everyone goes out, even a bridegroom from his room, and the bride from her wedding canopy. That being said, going out to war and defining the war is conditioned upon clear and explicit terms, done according to the Torah of Israel, and not contradicting it.
In a war for the Land of Israel, we are commanded to inherit the regions of the land as an eternal inheritance, to conquer Lebanon and to settle it (Sifrei Devarim, end of Parshat Ekev), to conquer Gaza and its borders and to settle in it (Sifrei Devarim 7).
Until the Prime Minister’s announcement, this war was defined as a war of Israel upon those who trouble it (see the decision of the court from Tamuz 22). With the Prime Minister’s declaration that victory will speed withdrawal from the Land of Israel, that is to say that one of the goals of the war is expulsion of Jews from the Land of Israel, it becomes clear that the Prime Minister is acting against the commands of the Torah. The Prime Minister, in his accumulated policy has brought upon us the war and this bloodshed, as he was one of those who came up with the idea of abandoning the Gaza Strip, and he was one that helped carry it out, amidst uprooting and expulsion of our people from there, and he was one of those that personally assured its execution, and thus planted the courage and strength in the hearts of our enemies to act towards the destruction of our Land. The man has proven his wickedness in this that he was a senior partner to the expulsion of ten thousand Jews from their homes, when up until now the problems relating to expellees’ housing and livelihood, aside from the destruction of families, destruction of many souls, of the expellees. And see now at the height of the war he declares his intention to abandon Judea and Samaria as he adopts the prior expulsion as a model, times time, and puts hesitation and weakness in the heart of the fighters and the nation.
It is incumbent upon him, about whom speaks the Torah – “Who is the man who is afraid and soft of heart, he should go and return to his home, and not let the hearts of his brothers become soft like his” (Deuteronomy 28). The Rambam adds: “And not this alone, but the blood of Israel is held on his neck… and behold this is like someone who has shed everyone’s blood” (Mishneh Torah Laws of Kings Chapter 7:15)
With his very declaration during wartime, the Prime Minister gives assistance and backing to the enemy in his war to expel the Jews from the Land of Israel.
Therefore, it is obligatory upon the Prime Minister and the Knesset:
1. To unify forces and set up a National Emergency Government (See the document from the Committee of the Sanhedrin for Matters of War from the 3rd of Av.)
2. To appoint an honest Prime Minister with a pure heart.
3. To give proper instructions to the army to destroy the enemies of Israel until their end according to the laws of Torah, until destruction. Until these instructions will be carried out:
It is allowed for any soldier for whom the Prime Minister’s instructions harm his ability to function from a religious and conscientious standpoint to turn to his commander in writing and declare:
The Prime Minister has harmed me in his announcement that victory in this war will advance the evacuation of Judea and Samaria and the expulsion of Jews from their homes. In light of the above, I request to be freed from a war whose outcome would bring withdrawal from the Land of Israel and the expulsion of 100,000 Jews from their homes.
And thus we have come to sign, given today, the 9th of Av 5766
The five of us sign unanimously:
Rabbi Yisrael Ariel (Head of the court)
Rabbi Dov Stein (Secretary)
Rabbi Tzvi Rogin
Rabbi Yehuda Edri
Rabbi Hillel Weis