Influential Israeli rabbi no longer damning Palestinians

JERUSALEM- Three weeks after saying God should smite the Palestinian people, the spiritual head of a religious party in Israel's ruling coalition sent out a conciliatory message wishing a "long life" to Arab leaders involved in the peace process, media reported on Friday.
"I bless the leaders and the people -- Egyptian, Jordanian and Palestinian -- involved in the peace process," Rabbi Ovadia Josef, 90, wrote in a letter to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

"I wish them long life and success," he wrote in the letter, a copy of which was printed in the Haaretz daily.
"My position has been known for decades on the importance of achieving peace," said Josef, the spiritual head of the Shas party, a member of the center-right government coalition.
The rabbi had stirred angry reactions, including from the US administration, when he damned Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas and his people ahead of the September 2 Washington summit that restarted the peace negotiations after a 20-month hiatus.
"May all the nasty people who hate Israel, like Abu Mazen, vanish from our world," Josef had said in a sermon, using the nickname of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.

Friday, September 17th 2010

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