Rabbi Haim Druckman 370.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Confusion reigned Sunday regarding a possible deal between Shas and Bayit Yehudi
to cooperate on the election of two new chief rabbis.
A report on Ynet
claimed that Bayit Yehudi and Shas had agreed to mutually support Rabbis Yaakov
Ariel and Shlomo Amar for selection as Ashkenazi and Sephardi chief rabbis in
the forthcoming elections.
A well-placed source in Bayit Yehudi did
confirm to The Jerusalem Post
on Sunday evening that Shas officials had spoken
with Rabbi Haim Druckman, who has been discussing the issue with the
national-religious party, and agreed to work towards the deal he has been
However, a Bayit Yehudi party spokeswoman said that no deal
had been agreed and that “the party is still examining all the
Druckman has sought Shas support for the candidacy of
national-religious Rabbi Yaakov Ariel for the position of Ashkenazi chief rabbi,
in return for Bayit Yehudi’s support to extend the term of current Sephardi
Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, something currently prohibited by
Meanwhile, senior Shas MK Ariel Atias said on Sunday evening in an
interview with haredi radio station Kol Barama that “as of now” there was no
agreement with the coalition on the required legislation.
afternoon, the group of senior national-religious rabbis known as “the Seven
Elders” convened in Jerusalem to discuss the deal, with Housing Minister and
Bayit Yehudi MK Uri Ariel in attendance.
The election of both Ariel and
Amar would require two separate pieces of legislation that have been publicly
opposed on more than one occasion by coalition partners Yesh Atid and Yisrael
Ariel, 76, requires legislation to remove the current age
barrier for candidates of 70, while Amar requires legislation permitting a chief
rabbi to serve more than one term.
Although one of the terms of the
coalition agreement between Likud Beytenu and Bayit Yehudi is in favor of
coalition support for the legislation removing the term limit for chief rabbis,
Yesh Atid, Yisrael Beytenu and Hatnua have all expressed support for
national-religious Rabbi David Stav for the position of Ashkenazi chief rabbi
and are therefore likely to oppose legislation removing the age limit for
Shas’ agreement to the deal would be somewhat
Its spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef is thought to be
opposed to a deal with Bayit Yehudi because of the perceived betrayal of the
haredim by the national religious party in forming a pact with Yesh Atid during
the coalition negotiations which excluded Shas from government.
return of Arye Deri to the head of the Shas political party is thought to have
led to Sunday’s developments.