Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu
Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu Emanuel Maimon

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein is expected to tell the Chief Rabbi of the city of Tzfat (Safed), Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, that his candidacy for the position of the Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel is inappropriate, it was announced Monday.

Weinstein is expected to inform Rabbi Eliyahu that because of his past statements regarding renting land to Arabs, Weinstein will not be able to defend his appointment should any appeals be filed against it.

Weinstein's position does not prevent Rabbi Eliyahu from running, but if a petition is submitted to the High Court over the candidacy, it may be easier for the Court to disqualify Rabbi Eliyahu in the absence of support for the candidacy from the Attorney General.

Several weeks ago it was reported that Weinstein would summon Rabbi Eliyahu for a hearing over his plans to run for the position of the Sephardic Chief Rabbi.

Rabbi Eliyahu’s controversial statements were made following complaints that Arabs were moving into Jewish neighborhoods and disturbing Jews in Tzfat. The statements in question led to police investigations that ended with no charges being filed.

MK Eitan Cabel (Labor) sent a letter to Weinstein asking him to bar Rabbi Eliyahu from the race. On Monday, MK Issawi Frej (Meretz) filed a motion to the High Court against Rabbi Eliyahu’s candidacy.

The motion claims that statements regarding Arabs made in the past by Rabbi Eliyahu make him unfit for the prestigious position.

Rabbi Eliyahu: Weinstein is Trampling Democracy
Responding to Weinstein’s decision on Monday evening, Rabbi Eliyahu’s campaign headquarters said, "On the eve of Tisha B'Av, the Attorney General chose to remove the mask of hypocrisy and trample democracy. It turns that the Attorney General, who legalized serious acts of Knesset members against IDF soldiers and gave backing to the leaders of the Islamic Movement, chose to court-martial Rabbi Eliyahu and made ​​himself prosecutor, judge and executioner.

"Weinstein, who realized that a large majority of the electing body will vote in favor of Rabbi Eliyahu for Chief Rabbi, decided to break the rules and, in an unprecedented move, without authority, without a hearing and without verifying the claims created a new reality, according to which a candidate that is disliked by the judicial elite will not receive protection from the authorities.

"The Attorney General will now have to explain to the entire public why Hanin Zoabi and Sheikh Raed Salah are entitled to his defense, while a revered chief rabbi of a city and a leading candidate for the position is strongly attacked by him,” said Rabbi Eliyahu’s headquarters.