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Israeli Shas party rabbi taken ill days before election

Jan. 12, 2013 9:03 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 12, 2013 9:03 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Reuters) -- An Israeli rabbi who is the spiritual head of a powerful ultra-Orthodox political party was taken to hospital with a suspected minor stroke on Saturday, 10 days before a general election.

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, who has largely set the terms under which his Shas party has agreed to join a succession of governments, was taken to Jerusalem's Hadassah hospital by ambulance after feeling weak during sabbath prayers.

A hospital spokesman said Yosef, 92, was in stable condition, but would be kept in for a few days since he might have suffered a minor stroke.

A spokesman for Shas, which draws its support from the fast-growing community of religious Jews of Middle Eastern origin, was unreachable for comment.

The Iraqi-born Yosef, a former chief rabbi of Israel, made headlines last summer when he called for prayers for Iran's destruction at time when speculation was high that Israel might attack Iran's nuclear facilities.

Ma'an News Agency
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