Shas sages said ‘divided’ over resignation of gay wedding MK

Compromise may be in the works after Yigal Guetta holds off from formally resigning; he notified Shas leader but not Knesset speaker

Shas MK Yigal Guetta in Jerusalem, February 16, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Shas MK Yigal Guetta in Jerusalem, February 16, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The decision-making body of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party was reported Wednesday to be divided over the future of lawmaker Yigal Guetta, who indicated he would resign earlier in the day in the wake of a furor sparked by his revelation that he had attended his nephew’s gay wedding two years ago, before becoming an MK.

On Wednesday, Guetta wrote to party boss and Interior Minister Aryeh Deri that he would resign and give up his Knesset seat. That was after a group of rabbis drafted a letter condemning him for his admission on Army Radio on Monday that he attended the wedding. The rabbis urged the public to “call and cry out to all the leaders [of Shas] to not endorse this terrible desecration of God’s blessed name and to remove and fire [Guetta] immediately from his public position to a position that has no public role, and to advertise the fact of his firing.”

But the affair is not yet over.

While Guetta sent a resignation letter to Deri, he did not send one to Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, who must receive a formal resignation announcement from an MK in order for it to become official.

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein attends a ceremony at the Knesset, Jerusalem, June 6, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

By law, Shas can kick Guetta — the party’s secretary-general — out of the party, but it cannot kick him out of the Knesset.

Once a Knesset member is elected, only a large majority of fellow lawmakers, backed by an Ethics Committee decision and a very serious breach of the law on his or her part, can force him or her from parliament.

Notably, the rabbis’ letter did not carry the signatures of any members of the Council of Torah Sages.

To confuse things further, one report said Guetta would announce his decision “at Rosh Hashanah,” the Jewish new year that begins next Wednesday evening.

Channel 2 said that one Council member, Rabbi Shimon Baadani, opposed Guetta’s resignation, saying he should not be fired for wanting to support his family.

Another, Rabbi Shalom Cohen reportedly disagreed, and the two were due to meet in Jerusalem Wednesday evening to try to hash out a solution.

One compromise in the works is reportedly to ask Guetta for an apology — for publicizing his attendance at the gay wedding, not for attending it per se.

Rabbi Shimon Badani enters the stage of a convention for Jewish religious women held in Jerusalem on June 28, 2010. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Guetta remained tight-lipped, saying only that Shas was, and would continue, to be his home and that he would continue to work for its success.

But sources close to him told Channel 2 that the rabbis were given an incomplete recording of his words by someone who meant to hurt him, and that he was in any case subject to Shas’s Council of Torah Sages and would do whatever they instructed.

Guetta’s sister, Suzy Ben Zvi, told the TV channel that having voted for Shas in most elections, she would no longer do so. “What, did my brother steal? Did he murder? What exactly did he do? ” she asked.

Guetta’s daughter, Simcha, told Channel 10 Wednesday evening that she was “proud of my father, a man who lives in light and not in darkness, and who follows his truth wherever it may lead.

“What did he do? Went to the wedding of his nephew. It doesn’t matter if you’re religious or secular, you should love and respect other people,” she added.

“This nation needs unity, it needs people like him in politics. He’s a strong spokesman for this nation. [In an election,] he could bring four Knesset seats all by himself.”

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