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Eliyahu can run for chief rabbi, Israeli Supreme Court rules

(JTA) — Israel’s Supreme Court will allow Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, who has made derogatory statements about Arabs and homosexuals, to run for the post of Sephardi chief rabbi.

The court on Monday rejected a petition to bar Eliyahu from running based on the statements, according to Haaretz, saying it was premature and would be reconsidered if Eliyahu was elected in balloting set for Wednesday.

Meretz Knesset member Issawi Freij submitted the petition. Freij’s lawyer said that Eliyahu’s statements are “not expressing a legitimate view from someone who sees himself as worthy of serving as Israel’s chief rabbi.”

Eliyahu, the chief rabbi of the northern city of Safed, has called on Jewish residents not to sell or rent property to Arabs. The statement was the subject of a criminal investigation by Israel’s attorney general last year.

Eliyahu’s attorney said the statements in question were made as specific Jewish legal rulings and that “the rabbi respects every person as an individual.”

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