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The Supreme Court rejected a request by imprisoned former minister Shlomo Benizri (Shas) to be allowed out of jail to attend his grandson's Jewish circumcision ceremony yesterday, saying that Benizri could follow the ceremony by telephone.

After the Supreme Court turned down the former minister's petition, Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef agreed to serve as sandak, the person with the honored role of holding the baby during the ceremony.

The brit mila was also attended by Shas party chairman and Interior Minister Eli Yishai and other Shas MKs.

Benizri was imprisoned last month after being convicted of taking bribes.

Last week Yishai told a meeting of the Shas Knesset faction that he would work to improve the conditions under which Benizri is imprisoned and told of his conversations with Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch (Yisrael Beiteinu) on the matter.

A Shas spokesman said, "Yishai approached the Public Security Minister on Benizri's behalf as he does for other prisoners. The requests are made not to improve conditions of incarceration but to make them equal with other prisoners, to provide Benizri the daily routine of Torah study according to the requirements of Jewish law (halakha)."

Yishai's comments followed complaints by Shas faction members who visited Benizri at Maasiyahu Prison over "difficulties" and various inspections that they faced on their visit. They also criticized the fact that Benizri is receiving cold food because he requires meals prepared according to more strict kashrut standards.