Has Netanyahu Agreed to Appoint Chief Rabbi Ariel?
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Bayit Yehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett met Monday and discussed the candidates for the position of Chief Rabbi, Israel Hayom reported Tuesday.
Bennett reportedly presented Netanyahu with the initiative put forth by Rabbi Haim Druckman, according to which the much-respected Rabbi Yaakov Ariel, Chief Rabbi of Ramat Gan and a former contender for the position, be the religious Zionist candidate for the position.
Rabbi Ariel's candidacy requires that the law be amended so that rabbis over 70 can contend for the position.
The two men reportedly agreed to advance the legislation. A source involved in the contacts explained that the conversation between the two has "critical importance," because Netanyahu's green light gives the move greater chances of success vis-à-vis the opposition of "certain factions."
Bennett's bureau said that "The Bayit will act will its full strength for the appointment of a Zionist Chief Rabbi, and a decision regarding his identity has yet to be reached.
Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid faction reportedly favors Rabbi David Stav for the position of Chief Rabbi. Rabbi Stav is considered more liberal than Rabbi Ariel and is opposed by much of the mainstream religious Zionist rabbinate, who consider his views unacceptable. They may support Rabbi Ariel so as to keep Rabbi Stav from being chosen, as the two other religious Zioinist candidates - the Rosh Yeshiva of Merkaz Harav, Rabbi Yaakov Shapira and Rabbinic Court Judge Eliezer Igra, who both support Rabbi Ariel as well - might have split the mainstream vote and ensured Rabbi Stav's election.