Israel’s deputy foreign minister invoked the Bible to urge Israeli diplomats that they should not be apologetic in emphasizing to other countries that Israel has a moral right to all of the land of Israel, including Judea and Samaria, that is, the West Bank.
“Of course the world understands Israel’s security needs, but arguments of ethics and justice will trump security arguments,” Tzipi Hotovely of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party told foreign ministry employees Thursday, according to the Times of Israel.
During her presentation, Hotovely quoted analysis by the famous 11th-century biblical commentator Rashi, who wrote that the Torah begins with a description of the creation of the world. If Jews were accused of stealing the land of Israel they could explain that the entire world belongs to God who gave the land of Israel to the Jews.
“Rashi says the Torah opens with the story of the creation of the world so that if the nations of the world come and tell you that you are occupiers, you must respond that all of the land belonged to the creator of world and when he wanted to, he took from them and gave to us,” she said according to the left-wing newspaper Haaretz.
"It is important to say that this land is ours, all of it is ours. We didn't come here to apologize for this," she said, according to Arutz Sheva, a right-wing news service.
Haaretz reported that Israeli diplomats who heard her speech “noted that her remarks raised eyebrows among many in the audience.”
“People were in shock,” one diplomat told Haaretz. “It’s the first time they have asked us to use a Torah commentary for purposes of public diplomacy around the world.”
Israeli government officials frequently cite the security hazards of handing the West Bank to the Palestinian Authority, because it would establish what have been described as indefensible borders. More rarely heard from secular, left-wing politicians is the historical connection of Jews to Judean cities, such as Hebron as described in the Bible.
“We sought to present arguments that would play well diplomatically,” she said, “but currently it’s important to be right. We need to get back to the basic truth of our right to this land.”
Hotovely currently holds the top job at the foreign ministry, as Prime Minister Netanyahu decided to hold off for now on appointing a foreign minister. Netanyahu is officially the foreign minister in addition to prime minister.
Haaretz reported that even though Hotovely does not support a two-state solution, because Netanyahu has said he supports it, she said she would in her capacity as deputy foreign minister articulate the prime minister’s policy.
The U.S. as well as most other countries say Israel should one day cede territories it captured during the 1967 Six Day War including the West Bank and half of its capital, Jerusalem as part of a comprehensive peace agreement with the Palestinians.