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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 June, 2004, 15:03 GMT 16:03 UK
Rabbi accused of urging violence
Israeli settlers protest against the Gaza pullout plan
The rabbi made his comments to Jewish settlers in the West Bank
A Jerusalem rabbi has been criticised for saying that Jews who give away any part of Biblical Israel to non-Jews could be killed under a religious law.

Rabbi Avigdor Neventzhal told settlers that anyone who turns over Israeli land could be subject to Din Rodef - a licence to kill a fellow Jew.

The comment follows the approval by the Israeli cabinet of plans to withdraw from Gaza and parts of the West Bank.

Finance Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has strongly condemned the remarks.

'Law-abiding'

Rabbi Avigdor Neventzhal of Jerusalem's Old City told a gathering of West Bank settlers on Tuesday: "I am a Torah authority, and it is my role to rule according to my understanding.

"According to Jewish law, anyone who turns over territories that are part of the Land of Israel to non-Jews is subject to Din Rodef, but I hope none of my students carries out an act of this sort," he was quoted by Israeli army radio as saying.

Mr Netanyahu said the remarks incited violence.

"This is something that must not be done - we are a law-abiding country and if we make difficult choices from a national standpoint, we accept them in a democratic and law-abiding manner," he told public radio.


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