Amar bill buried by Rabbi Ovadia Yosef's opposition

Shas spiritual leader supported Amar serving extra term as Sephardi chief rabbi, but opposed Stav for Ashkenazi chief rabbi.

June 12, 2013 20:38
1 minute read.
Rabbi Ovadia Yosef

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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The so-called Amar bill was defeated on Wednesday afternoon, after it became clear that Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef opposed the legislation.

Yosef instructed Shas MKs that although he would have liked to see Amar reelected as Sephardi chief rabbi, he could not support Bayit Yehudi’s demand that Amar back Rabbi David Stav for the position of Ashkenazi chief rabbi.

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Haredi MKs then pulled various parliamentary maneuvers in order to prevent the bill from coming to the Knesset plenum on Wednesday, even though the Committee for the Interior had earlier approved the bill for its first reading.

The bill was reintroduced by Shas MK Avraham Michaeli, after it was originally proposed by Bayit Yehudi MK Zvulun Kalfa, but the party has now blocked its own bill.

It will now be extremely difficult to get the bill through the legislative process, since the government promised the Supreme Court that the chief rabbi electoral committee would be fully appointed by Sunday.

Following the appointments’ completion process to the election committee, it will no longer be legally possible to legislate further on the election process for the Chief Rabbinate.

This situation threatens to bury once and for all the possibility that Amar could be elected. The law currently prohibits a sitting chief rabbi from standing for reelection, which the Amar bill would have changed.

In the likely event that Amar cannot stand, the probable candidates for the position of Sephardi chief rabbi will be Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, a conservative national-religious rabbi who serves as chief municipal rabbi of Safed, and Rabbi Avraham Yosef, the chief municipal rabbi of Holon and son of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.

Meanwhile, the coalition agreed on Wednesday, in the context of the deliberations on the Amar bill, that out of the 20 delegates appointed by the government to the chief rabbi electoral committee, the prime minister will select five of them and Religious Services Minister Naftali Bennett will choose 15.

The date for the election was also selected for July 24.

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