Elazar Stern Returning to Knesset

Secularist Yesh Atid's MK Rabbi Shai Piron is leaving politics, to be replaced by the controversial Stern.

Gil Ronen ,

Elazar Stern
Elazar Stern
Flash 90

The secularist Yesh Atid faction will convene a special meeting at the Knesset Wednesday morning at 11:00 local time.

The meeting is being held in order to announce that MK Rabbi Shai Piron is resigning from the Knesset in order to assume a senior position as an educator, and that he will be replaced by another member of the religious-Zionist community, former MK Elazar Stern.

Stern, who was a member of Tzipi Livni's Hatnua faction in the 19th Knesset, is a controversial figure among religious Zionists.

A former IDF Chief Education Officer, Stern supported the 2005 Disengagement from Gaza, and is also remembered for a 2007 decision barring soldiers in Hesder yeshivot from serving in Golani and Paratroopers units, which was seen as an attempt by Stern to disband the yeshivot. The ban was quietly lifted when Stern stepped down as Head of IDF Human Resources Directorate in 2008.

As MK, he was involved in an emotional controversy surrounding then-Rabbi of Kiryat Arba-Hevron, Rabbi Dov Lior. Speaking in the Knesset plenum, Stern accused the rabbi of making derogatory comments about Ethiopian Jews and questioning their Jewishness. Two days later, a youth who prays in MK Stern's synagogue spat in his face and said he was doing it in response to Stern's accusations against Rabbi Lior.

MK Struk from the Jewish Home said at the time that what MK Stern did "was, in a way, to spit in the face of Rabbi Dov Lior."

Rabbi Piron, who was Israel's education minister in the previous government, is also no stranger to controversy. In a February interview with Makor Rishon, he came out in favor of official recognition of same-sex unions as “marriages” – thus contradicting his earlier stated policy.