Shas spiritual leader and former Chief Sephardic Rabbi Ovadia Yosef has tossed another jab at the Palestinian Authority and called for a total thaw of the building freeze in Judea and Samaria. He spoke hours before Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu flew to the United States for scheduled talks with the PA.
Often referred to as"Rabbi Ovadia," he told Shas Knesset leader Interior Minister Eli Yishai, “We need to build everywhere in Israel," silencing rumors he has agreed to a partial thaw in the building freeze. He previously has been considered to be agreeable to a partial freeze that would exclude high-density Orthodox communities such as Beitar Illit, in western Gush Etzion, and religious towns near Modi’in, located between Tel Aviv and
Rabbi Yosef’s statement was particularly significant because it came three days after he told followers that the Creator should "strike down” PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. Prime Minister Netanyahu distanced himself from the remark, but PA leaders demanded a retraction, which they did not get.
The Shas party traditionally has been dovish on a Jewish presence in Judea and
Politically, the Shas party has alternately succeeded in being part of both Labor and Likud government coalitions. It has won around 12 Knesset mandates in recent elections, enough seats to make or break coalitions.