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Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Israeli police arrest top settler rabbi in racism row

Israeli police detained a leading settler rabbi on Monday in connection with an investigation into his endorsement of a book justifying the killing of non-Jews in some cases, settler officials said.

Several months ago police issued an arrest warrant for Rabbi Dov Lior, the chief rabbi of Kiryat Arba and the settlements in Hebron on the West Bank, after he failed to present himself for questioning in an incitement probe.

"I have spoken to police and asked them to free him immediately," Malachi Levinger, the head of Kiryat Arba regional council, told AFP. "This is very serious." Police officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

Lior, who also heads the Council of Rabbis of Judea and Samaria, Israel's term used for the West Bank, is one of the main spiritual ideologues of the settlement movement.

Right-wing activists called on supporters to gather outside various police headquarters for protests later on Monday, an AFP correspondent said.

Levinger said police had told him the detention was in connection with the investigation into the book "The King's Torah."

A settler rabbi who co-authored the book was arrested last August on suspicion of incitement to violence but freed without charge days later after a court said police had not followed proper procedure.

Written by Yosef Elitzur and another rabbi, the book reportedly says that babies and children of Israel's enemies may be killed since "it is clear that they will grow to harm us."

It also said non-Jews were "uncompassionate by nature" and that attacks on them "curb their evil inclination."

"Anywhere where the influence of gentiles constitutes a threat to the life of Israel, it is permissible to kill them," the rabbis wrote.

The book, published earlier this year, has drawn sharp criticism from numerous rabbis who say it contradicts the teachings of Judaism.