JERUSALEM (JTA) – Israel’s justice minister reportedly called for basing the country’s judicial system on Torah laws.
"Step by step, we will bestow upon the citizens of Israel the laws of the Torah, and we will turn halachah into the binding law of the nation," Ya’akov Ne’eman said Tuesday morning at a Jewish law conference in Jerusalem, according to Ha’aretz. "We must bring back the heritage of our fathers to the nation of Israel. The Torah has the complete solution to all of the questions we are dealing with."
Ne’eman received applause for his comments. Many rabbis and rabbinical judges were at the convention.
In a statement released later Tuesday, the Justice Ministry’s spokesman clarified Ne’eman’s comments.
"The minister clarifies that his address did not contain an appeal to replace the state’s laws with the laws of halacha, neither directly nor indirectly," the statement said. "The minister spoke in general and broad terms about returning the glory of Hebrew law and the importance of Hebrew law in the state."
Ne’eman’s remarks drew fire from the government’s left wing, including calls for his resignation.
"His remarks reflect a disturbing process of ‘Talibanization’ occurring in Israeli society," said Haim Oron, chairman of the Meretz Party.
Tzipi Livni, opposition leader and chairman of the Kadima Party, said Ne’eman’s remarks should be concerning to "every citizen who cares about what happens in Israel in terms of its values and democracy."