Rabbi Dov Lior steps down as chief rabbi of Kiryat Arba, to move to east Jerusalem

Lior is one of the most high-profile national-religious rabbis in the country.

Rabbi Dov Lior (photo credit: Courtesy)
Rabbi Dov Lior
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Rabbi Dov Lior, one of the leading and most influential of the hardline national-religious rabbis, is leaving his position as chief rabbi of the Kiryat Arba settlement and will be moving to the controversial Beit Orot neighborhood on the Mount of Olives in east Jerusalem.
Lior has been considering leaving for several months, and actually took the decision to stand down just before Rosh Hashana, according to the national-religious website Kipa which first published the story.
An assistant to the rabbi told The Jerusalem Post that having reached the age of 80, Lior thought it right to step down, and said that he had decided to take up residence in the new Mount of Olives neighborhood because settling in the east of the city was “close to his heart.” Lior bought property in Beit Orot two years ago.
The construction of the small neighborhood in 2011 was opposed by the Palestinian Authority and the Obama administration.
Lior is one of the most high-profile national-religious rabbis in the country and in the past wielded significant influence among members of Knesset and ministers of the Tekuma party.
He is also one of the most radical figures in the national- religious community, both in terms of his perspective on the conflict with the Palestinians and his approach to issues of religion and state.
Lior supported the proposal for soldiers to refuse orders during the evacuation of the settlements in the Gaza Strip in 2005, and issued a ruling saying that it is forbidden to rent a house to Arabs in Israel or to employ Arabs in 2008, among other controversial positions and rulings.
Ahead of the 2013 general election, the rabbi split from Tekuma, which ran on a joint list with Bayit Yehudi, and backed the radical Otzma L’Yisrael party instead; it failed to pass the electoral threshold.
He has retained influence in the national-religious world, however, and has for example strongly opposed the conversion reform bill which was proposed by MK Elazar Stern (Hatnua) in the Knesset but advanced by moderate national- religious groups such as Tzohar and others.
Bayit Yehudi has officially opposed the reforms in their legislative format as well, with Lior’s influence strongly felt.
One Bayit Yehudi source told the Post that Lior’s retirement from his position as rabbi of Kiryat Arba would make the party’s life easier.
The source said that leaving his official position would make him less relevant, although at the same time more free to speak out whenever he so wished.
In addition, the Bayit Yehudi official said the party would move to fill the position of chief rabbi of Kiryat Arba with someone closer to the mainstream of the national-religious movement.