The spiritual leader of Israel's ultra-orthodox Shas party has wished death for all Palestinians, including acting Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas. The prominent cleric Rabbi Ovadia Yosef made the remark during his weekly sermon at a synagogue late Saturday, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported.
"Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] and all these evil people should perish from this world," said Ovadia. "God should strike them with a plague, them and these Palestinians," he went on to say.
During his speech, Rabbi Yosef also called the Palestinians "evil, bitter enemies of Israel" and denounced the upcoming direct peace talks with the Palestinians.
In April 2001, the Shas spiritual leader had made similar comments, calling for the annihilation of Arabs. "It is forbidden to be merciful to them. You must send missiles to them and annihilate them. They are evil and damnable," he said.
Rabbi Ovadia is one of the most powerful religious figures in Israel.