As was the case with the Oslo Agreement in 1993, Shas appears to be holding the trump card for cabinet approval of an Israeli attack against Iran’s nuclear program. This translates to the decision of Maran HaGaon HaRav Ovadia Yosef Shlita as being critical, and without the gadol hador’s approval, Shas ministers will not raise their hands in favor and an air force assault.
Rav Ovadia’s influence was also seen when he was invited to Cairo, to meet with then President Hosni Mubarak, with the latter seeking the rav’s support for ‘peace process’, which he received. When the rav’s motorcade traveled to Mubarak, it was clear that his presence was regarded on the level of a state leader. It is clear to many that Rabbi Ovadia Yosef’s decision has great influence in Israel and elsewhere. While Mubarak is no longer in a position of influence, according to most experts, Rav Ovadia’s influence continues to grow.
Now, as the Forum of Eight Ministers is addressing an unprecedented military threat, an existential threat from Iran, Rav Ovadia is once again called upon to decide if he is for or against an Israeli strike, a decision that will according to many determine if the IAF launches a preemptive strike against Iran or not.
The rav has already met with senior military officials and government representatives. He will likely hear from President Shimon Peres again in the coming days, and he has even met with American diplomatic representatives in Israel, who most likely presented the White House’s position on Iran and an Israeli assault.
Rav Ovadia met with Yitzchak Rabin three times before he announced his support for Oslo. He met with Ariel Sharon twice before being persuaded to support the expulsion of Jewish communities from Gush Katif. Ehud Olmert conferred with the rav before Israel targeted the Syrian nuclear facility. (Israel never formally accepted responsibility for the Syrian attack). Military and state leaders also met with the rav ahead of prisoner exchange deal to bring Gilad Shalit back home. In short, Chacham Ovadia’s decision has a direct impact on major events in Eretz Yisrael.
On erev shabbos, the rav met with National Security Advisor Major-General (reserves) Yaakov Amidror to discuss the Iranian threat. The meeting focused on a possible IAF assault against Iran, seeking the support of Shas ministers.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)