Yeshivah backs off in fight with army

Har Bracha yeshivah, whose head supported soldiers who said they would refuse orders to evacuate settlements

Har Bracha yeshivah, whose head supported soldiers who said they would refuse orders to evacuate settlements

The heads of the Hesder yeshivahs, which allow 18-year-olds to combine Torah studies and army service, have issued a joint statement against any form of political protest within the IDF.

The rabbis are trying to end the crisis with the defence establishment which led to one of the yeshivahs being cut out of the arrangement last week. Defence Minister Ehud Barak cancelled the Hesder status of the Har Bracha yeshivah on the West bank following the refusal of its head, Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, to retract his previous statements in support of soldiers refusing orders to dismantle settlements.

The rabbis of the Hesder Yeshivahs Association met on Sunday for an “emergency meeting” to discuss the implications of the move. Before the meeting, there was talk of a split between the rabbis supporting Melamed, who called upon the association to say clearly that their authority was above that of the army’s commanders, and those rabbis who advocated a more conciliatory approach.

By the end of the meeting it was the more moderate camp that set the tone and all the rabbis signed a joint statement saying that they all opposed “all demonstrations and protests within the IDF”. They also praised the “holy work carried out by the IDF and its commanders in guarding and defending the state of Israel and its citizens”.

The association also called upon Mr Barak to reverse his decision regarding the Har Bracha yeshivah, but one of the rabbis at the meeting said: “we did not set a deadline for Barak’s response and are not planning another of these meetings for a while. The damage has already been done and we are now trying to end the crisis.”

Last updated: 1:17pm, December 24 2009