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Report: Netanyahu Pressuring Rabbi Yosef to Support Iran Strike

PM Netanyahu is pressuring the leader of the Shas party, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, to support an Israeli attack on Iran, say sources.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 8/21/2012, 1:15 AM

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef
Rabbi Ovadia Yosef
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is pressuring the spiritual leader of the Shas party, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, to support an Israeli attack on Iran.

According to a report on Monday on the hareidi website Kikar HaShabbat, National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror met with Rabbi Yosef at his home in Jerusalem on Friday.

The report said that Amidror was accompanied at the meeting by Shas Chairman and Interior Minister Eli Yishai, who is a member of the ministerial forum which would make the decision on the issue.

“This is a campaign by officials in the Prime Minister's Office officials to place pressure on Shas and on Cabinet member Minister Eli Yishai to support a possible attack on Iran,” a source familiar with the meeting told Kikar HaShabbat.

While Shas does not often publicly speak about the party's position on the issue of a possible Israeli strike in Iran, it is believed that Yishai is not in favor of an Israeli attack.

Meanwhile, Channel 10 News reported on Monday that Rabbi Yosef himself referred to the Iranian issue for the first time on Sunday.

During his daily Torah lesson, the rabbi was quoted as having said, “We are in a terrible situation, we are in big trouble. The second Haman in Persia is also planning bad things against us.”

The report noted that until now, Rabbi Yosef was considered to be opposed to an Israeli attack on Iran.

At the same time, opposition Leader and Chairman of Kadima, MK Shaul Mofaz, is demanding that Netanyahu give him answers for a set of questions regarding a possible strike against Iran.

Mofaz fired off a letter Sunday to Attorney General and Government Legal Advisor Yehuda Weinstein, demanding that Netanyahu hold the monthly meeting with the Opposition Leader that he is required to hold by law. The meeting, he said, is to deal with the matter of a possible strike against Iran's nuclear weapons program – which Mofaz opposes strenuously.

Last week, President Shimon Peres came under attack for undercutting the elected government's stance on the Iranian threat.

Besides stating a position that runs counter to the Prime Minister's in a television interview, he is also reported to have accused Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, in closed conversations, of "terrible irresponsibility" in the Iranian matter.