Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein informed Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu on Monday evening that it would be inappropriatefor the latter to run for the post of Sephardi chief rabbi, in light of certain contentious remarks and the “legal difficulties” posed by his candidacy.
The race for Sephardic chief rabbi of Israel keeps getting uglier. The lead contender, Safed’s municipal Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, is the subject of a legal investigation by state attorney general Yehuda Weinstein. Weinstein’s action comes in response to a formal complaint by Labor Party lawmaker Eitan Cabel over Eliyahu’s 2010 ban on sale or rent of homes to Arabs, as well as certain statements about gays that may have broken laws on incitement.
The race for chief rabbi of Israel has been getting ugly since the collapse of a proposed deal between Shas and Jewish Home to elect their respective favorites. The deal would have amended the Chief Rabbinate laws to permit a second term for the incumbent Sephardic chief rabbi, a Shas favorite, and eliminated the age limit to permit the election of a favorite of the hardline, pro-settler of Jewish Home. The deal collapsed over liberal support for a more moderate Ashkenazi contender, as well as opposition to anything that benefits Shas.
Most of the members of the Jewish Home Knesset faction support the election of Safed’s chief rabbi, Shmuel Eliyahu, as Sephardic chief rabbi of Israel, despite racist statements he has made.