Israeli Deputy FM to envoys: Bible shapes Israel's foreign policy

05/23/2015 21:01

JERUSALEM (AFP) -- A top Israeli diplomat, in a video seen by AFP on Friday, has instructed envoys to quote the Bible as giving Jews sovereignty over the entire Holy Land, including the West Bank.

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely, a deeply religious Jewish woman, was sworn in last week as a member of Israel's new right wing government.

The video shows a speech she gave on Thursday to foreign ministry staff in Jerusalem, which local media said was beamed to 106 Israeli missions overseas.

"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.

Religious nationalists such as Hotovely support Jewish sovereignty throughout the Biblical "Land of Israel" and oppose the creation of an independent Palestinian state in the occupied West Bank and in Gaza, a cornerstone of international proposals to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Deputy FM Hotovely's instructions to envoys Thursday comes shortly after PM Benjamin Netanyahu forged 61 majority streets in the Israeli Knesset, the majority of whom are right leaning and openly refuse the potential establishment of a Palestinian state.

The coalition groups Likud, which won 30 seats in the election, with the center-right Kulanu (10 seats), Jewish Home (eight) and two ultra-Orthodox parties: Shas (seven) and United Torah Judaism (six).

It is unclear if hardline religious Zionist members newly appointed to the Knesset reflect sentiments held by the majority of Israelis.

A January 2015 poll found that 22 percent of Israelis define themselves as religious Zionists, according to the Israel Democracy Institute think tank. Of these, 62 percent believe maintaining Israel's Jewish majority is more important than controlling the "entire Land of Israel from the Jordan to the Mediterranean."

Hotevely stressed Thursday that "the international community deals with considerations of morality and justice. Facing this, we have to return to the basic truth of our right to this land."

She also quoted a medieval Jewish bible scholar's treatise on the story of creation in the book of Genesis.

A participant at the event said some diplomats were shocked to hear such a senior official lay down scriptural writings as guidelines for Israeli foreign policy.

"People were in shock," said one diplomat to Israeli news source Haaretz following the FM's speech, "It's the first time they have asked us to use a Torah commentary for purposes of public diplomacy around the world." Ma'anNews

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