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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Jerusalem - New rules allowing chief rabbi to be re-elected may be struck down

The so-called Amar bill, which would allow incumbent Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar to run for a second term, may be illegal, Knesset Legal Adviser Eyal Yinon said on Monday.

The bill, which passed a preliminary reading last week, has come under scrutiny because of its timing -- less than three months before elections are held for the positions of Ashkenazi and Sephardi chief rabbis.

"At the current point in time, the mechanisms proposed in the bill are problematic because of the upcoming elections," Yinon wrote in a legal opinion that was commissioned by MK Eitan Cabel (Labor) and MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism).

"The election of the chief rabbis should not be tampered with once the campaign begins; the overall mechanism for electing rabbis cannot be changed in the immediate run-up to the election," Yinon wrote.

However, Yinon did provide an opening for the law's enactment, saying, "The state's position on this matter, as manifested in its response to petitions being deliberated by the High Court of Justice on this matter, indicates that the State Prosecution sees no fault in moving forward with this piece of legislation so long as an election committee has not been formed and no electors have been appointed by the government."

An Amar associate said Yinon's opinion would not impede the passage of the bill.

"The legal adviser presented both sides of the argument for why the bill can and cannot go forward," he said. "The adviser said the bill is problematic but he did not strike it down."

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