Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the outspoken spiritual leader of the haredi Shas party vehemently denied on Friday that he had said quotes attributed to him in the haredi newspaper Bakehila.
Yosef was quoted on Friday morning as saying "anyone who votes for Kadima will fall backwards into Hell." Shas Chairman Aryeh Deri said that he had discussed the matter with the rabbi, and reiterated in the rabbi's name that had Yosef made such a statement, he never would deny it afterwards.
The newspaper Bakehila said in response that the statement is an exact quote taken from a recording made of the interview. The rabbi, famous for previous incendiary comments against Arabs, secular Jews and African-Americans, was interviewed a few days earlier by haredi journalists. In other articles citing the interview, the quote was phrased differently than in the Bakehila version, and did not use the word "hell".