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Israeli rabbis forbid renting to Arabs

JERUSALEM, Dec. 7 (UPI) -- Scores of leading Israeli rabbis have signed a religious ruling forbidding Jews from renting or selling properties to non-Jews officials said.

Chief rabbis from a number of the country's cities and towns, including Ramat Hasharon, Ashdod, Kiryat Gat, Rishon Letzion, Carmiel, Gadera, Afula, Nahariya, Herzliya, and Pardes Hannah signed the religious ruling, Haaretz reported Tuesday.

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The move is aimed at preventing Arab citizens from living in Jewish neighborhoods, the newspaper said.

"Racism originated in the Torah," Rabbi Yosef Scheinen, who heads the Ashdod Yeshiva, told the paper. "The land of Israel is designated for the people of Israel. This is what the Holy One Blessed Be He intended and that is what the (sage) Rashi interpreted," he said.

The ruling comes just months after Safed's chief rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu along with 18 other rabbis, signed a petition urging Jews to refrain from renting or selling homes to non-Jews, the newspaper said.

At the time Eliyahu called on town residents to refrain from renting to Arab students who attend college in the town, Haaretz said.

Eliyahu was the most senior rabbi to sign the petition at the time, causing Minister of Minority Affairs Avishay Braverman to ask Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman to investigate whether charges of incitement should be brought against him.

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Braverman also demanded Eliyahu be suspended from his municipal post, the newspaper said.

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