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Ultranationalist lawmaker's popularity soars among Israeli ultra-Orthodox

The ultra-Orthodox parties are more concerned about ultranationalist lawmaker Itamar Ben Gvir, who appears to enjoy growing popularity among their voters, than anti-clerical politicians like Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman.

In his popular weekly address broadcast to tens of thousands of followers June 18, Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef made a broadside attack at ultranationalist Knesset member Itamar Ben-Gvir for praying on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount in contravention of the rabbinical ban on Jewish prayer at the site.

“What blasphemy to go against all the true, great men of Israel. Think about it, fool,” he said. “He will tell you that he, too, has rabbis. … Think twice, you cretin. You think your rabbis know better than the greatest rabbis?” Yosef went on to accuse Ben Gvir and rabbis who support him of provocative behavior and disrespect for rabbinical teachings, “going up to the Temple Mount, stirring up trouble and crossing the line of the great men of Israel.” He urged his flock to “steer clear of” Ben Gvir.

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