Libai'i defends Metzger against A-G

Prof. David Liba'i attacked Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz during an appearance Thursday before the Commission for Appointing Rabbinic Judges in defense of Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger. Liba'i, a former justice minister, intimated that the attorney-general had gotten his facts wrong, according to members of the commission who spoke with The Jerusalem Post. "He showed us a few instances where Mazuz said one thing while the minutes from the investigations of Metzger said something else altogether," said MK Nissim Smoliansky (National Religious Party-National Union), one of two MKs on the nine-member panel. The commission met to discuss Metzger's fitness to continue as chief rabbi. Over a year ago, he was cleared of charges that he received bribes in the form of free hotel stays. However, Mazuz argued that while Metzger was found innocent of criminal charges, he should step down as chief rabbi due to doubts that were raised during police investigations regarding his moral and ethical behavior. The commission will request that Mazuz respond to Liba'i's claims. Afterwards, it will convene again to decide Metzger's fate. Even if it decides to remove Metzger from his post it is unclear whether the commission, which appoints rabbinic judges, also has jurisdiction over firing Israel's chief rabbi. The commission might also decide that while Metzger can continue to serve as chief rabbi, he cannot serve as president of the High Rabbinic Court. In April Metzger and Amar are supposed to rotate, with Metzger succeeding Amar in that post. Amar, meanwhile, will become the head of the Chief Rabbinic Council, which rules on kashrut and marital issues. The commission might also decide to reinstate Metzger.