(photo credit: AP)
Temporary head of Jerusalem's Religious Council, Moshe Isaac Ositcher, on Monday denied rumors that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had fired him.
"I can tell you that the prime minister has not signed the dismissal papers and I hope he does not cave in to political pressure from Shas," said Ositcher, who was appointed by Omri Sharon to head a provisional body that replaced the council.
The provisional body was set up to replace the religious council after Orthodox council members refused to sit with non-Orthodox members.
"Some people still have not figured out that in the wake of the Tax Authority scandal, political nepotism is a thing of the past." Ositcher came under attack for charges that his law career, which he continued to nurture and devote time to, detracted from his job as head of the religious council which employs 400.
Ositcher's critics also claimed that he had conflicting interests especially in appearances as an attorney before Jerusalem's Rabbinic Court.
Legal advisors in the Prime Minister's Office, which is responsible for religious services, brought these charges to the attention of the Attorney General's Office.
Ositcher said in his defense that he did not appear before Jerusalem's Rabbinic Court. He also said that his position as head of the religious council was a part time (80 percent) job which allowed him to devote time to his legal career.
"I never would have taken the job in the first place if it were a full-time position," said Ositcher.
Government legal sources close to the Ositcher case said they could not verify rumors that the prime minister had officially fired Ositcher.
One source said that the dismissal was being delayed because it would spark a fight between Shas and United Torah Judaism over who should replace Ositcher