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Israeli Rabbis: Don't Rent Homes to Non-Jews

Israeli rabbi Mordechai Nagari, one of the signatories of the controversial ruling, poses for a photo in his office in the Jewish West Bank settlement of Maaleh Adumim near Jerusalem, 07 Dec 2010

Dozens of Israeli rabbis have signed a new a religious ruling that would forbid the rental of homes to non-Jews, a move that could worsen tensions between Israeli Jews and the Arab minority.

The letter, issued Tuesday, was signed by at least 40 clerics, including several top rabbis. It has fueled charges of racism and come up against condemnation from lawmakers and human rights activists.

The clerics said in the appeal that "different lifestyles from Jews" can endanger lives. The letter urges Jews to caution their neighbors who rent to Arabs or other non-Jews and to avoid them if they still allow the renters.

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel has called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to condemn the letter and discipline the rabbis, some of whom are employed by the state.

Mr. Netanyahu's office has not commented.

The appeal comes months after 18 rabbis issued a letter for a similar ruling.

The letter comes at a time when international efforts have been underway to revive direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. The talks stalled after an Israeli freeze on West Bank settlement building expired in September. Palestinians oppose building on land they want as part of a future state.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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