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Israel: Officials slam Netanyahu's meetings with Zionists rabbis

Image of Ayelet Shaked, Israel's new Justice Minister of the far-right Jewish Home party, in Jerusalem May 17, 2015 [REUTERS/Gali Tibbon/Pool]
Ayelet Shaked, Israel's Justice Minister of the far-right Jewish Home party, in Jerusalem 17 May, 2015 [Gali Tibbon/Reuters]

The Israeli Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked has criticised Orthodox Zionist rabbis for meeting with the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who is embroiled in corruption investigations, Israel's Haaretz newspaper reported.

"It's because of them that he disregards us," the paper reported Shaked as saying during a private meeting with close associates from her Jewish Home party. "Netanyahu knows that he has the rabbis [in his camp]," she added.

Shaked has also complained about a letter sent by Rabbi Haim Druckman in which he called not to participate in the right-wing anti-corruption protests which took place in Jerusalem last weekend.

Haaretz quoted commentator on religious parties, Israel Cohen, saying: "Party leaders are bothered, and rightfully so, that there is someone [Netanyahu] who is bypassing them and talking with rabbis over their heads. … It looks to them like their power is being weakened."

On Tuesday, Netanyahu met with met with a group of extremist rabbis who requested settlements be given priority in exchange for their support during the ongoing corruption cases against.

Read: After public outcry, Netanyahu backtracks on immunity bill

Member of the Knesset, Elazar Stern of Yesh Atid party, criticised the meeting saying: "When the government needs approval in light of police investigations he calls the rabbis of religious Zionism, but when he needs (guidance on the issues of) kashrut, Shabbat, Judaism, and the rabbinate, he does not consult with them."

Netanyahu is currently entangled in four political scandals: Case 1000 which involves allegations that the PM and his wife accepted illegal gifts from businessmen; Case 2000 which accuses Netanyahu of attempting to buy favourable newspaper coverage; Case 3000, also known as the "submarine scandal"; and Case 4000, in which a close associate of Netanyahu is suspected of providing confidential information to Israel's largest telecoms company.

The prime minister's wife, Sara Netanyahu, has also been accused of using public funds for private expenditure in the prime minister's households. Only 20 per cent of respondents to the recent survey believe she is innocent.

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