An influential Israeli Jewish rabbi has said God should strike the Palestinians and their leader with plague, calling for their death in a fiery sermon.
“Abu Mazen [Palestinian Authority leader] and all these evil people should perish from this earth,” late Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the former spiritual head of the Israeli Jewish Shas party, said in a sermon in 2010.
Peace talks should have started one week after his sermon.
“God should strike them and these Palestinians - evil haters of Israel - with a plague,” the rabbi, who was 89 years old, said in his weekly address to his followers.
The Iraqi-born cleric has made similar remarks before, most notably in 2001, during a Palestinian uprising, when he called for Arabs' annihilation and said it was forbidden to be merciful to them.
In the 1990s, Rabbi Yosef broke with other Orthodox Jewish leaders by voicing support for territorial compromise with the Palestinians.
Saeb Erekat, the then chief Palestinian negotiator, said the rabbi’s latest comments were tantamount to calling for "genocide against Palestinians".
The rabbi's remarks, he said, were "an insult to all our efforts to advance the negotiations process.”
Ovadia Yosef died in 2013, leaving behind him a very large heritage of hate against Muslims, Arabs and Palestinians.