PM distances himself from Yosef's ranthttp://www.jpost.com/Israel/
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday distanced himself from inflammatory comments made by Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef over the weekend in which he wished a plague on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian people.
A statement released by the Prime Minister's Office said that Yosef's comments "don't represent the views of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu or the Israeli government. Israel entered into negotiations out of a desire to progress with the Palestinians toward an agreement that will end the conflict and ensure peace, security and good neighborly relations between the two nations."
Earler Sunday, Palestinian Authority officials claimed that Yosef had essentially called for the "genocide of the Palestinian people" when he made comments about Abbas and the Palestinian people in his weekly sermon.
Palestinian Authority Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat said that Yosef's comments are "an absolute insult to our efforts to progress the peace process."
Rabbi Yosef called Abbas "an evil hater of Israel" in his weekly sermon and reportedly said that God should send a plague to Abbas and the Palestinians, and they should be finished.
Four days before the opening of new negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, Yosef also wished death on the Palestinian nation and prayed that "the Lord strike them down."
Erekat condemned the fact that there had not been an official reaction from the Knesset.
MK Ahmed Tibi (UAL-Ta'al) also condemned Rabbi Yosef's comments and claimed that the rabbi became a spreader of hate a long time ago.
Tibi suggested that Yosef think twice before he calls for the death of all the evil people because without paying attention he is wishing for his own death and shooting himself in the foot.
Shas veteran Yehuda Avidan responded by saying that anyone who knows Yosef knows that there is no one who wants and seeks peace more than him. Avidan explained that the rabbi sees the Palestinians as Israel's enemies but wants there to be peace.
Until now Yosef has steered clear of commenting on anything related to diplomatic negotiations. At the end of the 1980s Yosef ruled that the country should seek peace, even at the price of painful concessions, given the supremacy of the Jewish value of 'pikuakh nefesh' (saving of life).
Last year, Yosef attacked the secular education system, saying that some secular people were "fools" who behave like "animals." Giving a sermon on kiddush customs (the blessing over wine), Yosef said that while Torah students and synagogue goers knew how to make kiddush, "there are some who studied in secular schools like foolish fools - they don't know what a kiddush is and then eat like animals." He has since said that people who send their children to learn in secular schools will suffer punishment in this world and the next.
In 2009 Yosef also caused an uproar after arguing that those murdered in the Holocaust were a reincarnation of sinners from past generations.