Pikuach nefesh and “land for peace”
Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef shlit”a is well known for arguing that land may – indeed must – be relinquished if the objective is to save lives. It is less well known that the late Lubavitcher Rebbe essentially shared this analysis of the halacha, though he believed that relinquishing land would only endanger Jewish lives, not save them. R’ Soloveitchik zt”l apparently shared this approach as well, though there may be some subtle distinctions among halachists regarding whether one would be required to trade land for peace or merely permitted to, and regarding who one consults in assessing whether or not lives would actually be saved.
Speaking in 1967, Rav Soloveitchik argued that such decisions are ultimately not for rabbis to make but for military and political experts. Regarding the specific point of pikuach nefesh, the saving of lives, he said:
If pikuach nefesh supersedes all other mitzvos, it supersedes all prohibitions of the Torah, especially pikuach nefesh of the yishuv in Eretz Yisrael.
Excerpt from “Steps Towards Peace”
Har Habayit—Al Axsa Peace Summit
In taking affirmative steps towards peace (e.g. the dismantling of terrorist infrastructures, limited withdrawal of IDF troops from disputed territories) as required by the Quartet’s proposed Road Map or previously agreed upon Middle East Peace Process arrangements (e.g. the Wye River Accord), the Parties should endeavor to hold a UNESCO sponsored truth and reconciliation Peace Process Summit entitled the Har Habayit—Al Axsa Peace Summit to establish the aforesaid UN Regional Human Rights / Terrorist Court and Union of Middle Eastern States for the furtherance of the principals set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations Charter.
Truth and Reconsiliation Commission:
The Har Habayit—Al Axsa Peace Summit should, in the spirit of the United Nations Charter Articles 33 through 38 and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Endevour to establish a Middle East Truth and Reconsiliation Commission which shall recommend to the parties to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict after relevant StepsTowards Peace have been taken in good faith, PACIFIC Settlement of the matters of dispute and the Har Habayit—Al Axsa Peace Summit should facilitate an Agreement by the State of Israel, and the Palestinian Arabs that the Rule of Law shall be the determining factor to Pacific Settlement of their long standing issues.
The UNESCO sponsored truth and reconciliation Peace Process Summit entitled the Har Habayit—Al Axsa Peace Summit should endevour in the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 27 (Protection of Participation in the Cultural Life, Arts and Sciences) and the Article 21 of the Anglo-American Treaty of 1924 (Law for the Protection of Antiquities) to have the Megillat HaNechoshet (The Copper Scroll) discovered at the Qumran Antiquities Site (Yam HaMelek – The Dead Sea) released from the custody and control of the Jordan Museum Amman in the Kingdom of Jordan and returned to the People of Israel for scholarly and layman assessment, analysis or research and disposition by and through the Israeli Antiquities Department.
Such truth and reconciliation Peace Process Summit shall in the spirit of Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights sponsor a Chag Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) at the Har Habayit—Al Axsa Peace Summit on the Har Habayit—Al Axsa on the Temple Mount (Haram Al-Sharif) at EL KUS (The Cup) that Truth and Reconciliation between the Jewish and Muslim Communities might flourish that John Mauritz Hummasti of THE Hurst NATION together with scholars and laymen may further research and study the Copper Scroll that they may freely participate in the cultural life of the Jewish Community and to enjoy in the protection of the arts and advancement of the sciences in the Middle East Peace Process in the spirit of Article 27.
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