US Ambassador Dan Shapiro met with Israel’s two chief rabbis on Wednesday to discuss the ongoing Palestinian peace process and the religious perspective that the spiritual leaders take of it.
The meetings, requested by Shapiro, took place in the rabbis’ respective offices in Jerusalem.
Citing a passage from the writings of his late father, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef told the ambassador that a peace process based on trading land for peace was supported by Halacha, the body of rules and principles that govern religious Jewish life.
However, Yosef explained, Jews couldn’t relinquish land under a deal that didn’t guarantee real peace.
“We cannot make peace if it isn’t a real peace, and the permission is only given for a peace agreement that guarantees to prevent bloodshed,” Yosef told Shapiro. “Today, it isn’t clear that this is the situation.”
Shapiro noted that the support of religious leaders for the peace process could help eliminate objections by large parts of the public.
During his meeting with Shapiro, Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau appealed to the US envoy to work through diplomatic channels on behalf of Johnathan Pollard, who has been held in a US prison since 1987 after being convicted of spying for Israel.
“I am not getting into the legal aspects,” Lau said. “This is one of the most painful issues for us, and Pollard’s release will only strengthen the trust and connection between Israel and the US.”