An Exodus to a Christian community in Israel’s occupied West Bank, known as the ‘Kollel settlement’, became a Christian exodus, after a local rabbi who had been working in the settlement was forced to convert to Judaism.
The news was first reported by the Hebrew-language website Jerusalem Post.
Rabbi Eli Berri, who has been working as a rabbi at the settlement since 2005, told Haaretz that he had been forced to change his faith after his boss told him to convert.
He said he was asked to convert because of a complaint about the community’s ‘anti-semitic tendencies’.’
My boss asked me to change my faith, and then he told me to go back to work,’ Berri said.
‘And after that I had to leave.’
He added: ‘I left the community because of the hostility from the community, and now I’m leaving because of them.’
The exodus was not the first of its kind in the occupied West.
In 2005, Israel’s Chief Rabbinate ordered all Jews who had converted to Judaism to leave the settlement, in an attempt to prevent the return of the illegal Israeli settlement of Har Homa to the Palestinian Authority (PA).
Israel’s new Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, has said he intends to annex the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which he claims are under Palestinian sovereignty.
Israel has also imposed strict controls on Palestinian refugees who attempt to flee the country, including restrictions on movement and a ‘three strikes’ policy, which means that anyone convicted of carrying out attacks on Israelis is barred from returning to the country.
In June, Netanyahu ordered the closure of the main refugee camp in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
According to the Israeli government, the closure is aimed at preventing Palestinians from fleeing to the Gaza Strip.
Israel and the Palestinians have not signed a peace agreement, and it remains to be seen whether a final peace deal can be reached.