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A senior forum of rabbis shook up religious Zionist circles yesterday by accusing Rabbi Mordechai Elon of inappropriate sexual behavior. One of the rabbis in the forum said it published the statement "to protect people over whom Rabbi Elon has authority."

The forum, Takana, devotes itself to preventing sexual harassment by authority figures.

No criminal charges have been brought against Elon, who at the time of his retirement some three years ago was considered a front-runner for a senior rabbinic post in the religious Zionist political leadership.

In his first response to the allegations yesterday, Elon said he himself had asked that the statement be made public because he had been the victim of extortion attempts.

The forum, whose members are senior rabbinic and other Orthodox public figures, said a team of its members had been dealing with the matter of Elon "following complaints received by the forum about acts contrary to the values of sanctity and morality, which to our great sorrow have been found to have grounds."

According to the forum, following the complaints, about three years ago the rabbis demanded that Elon cease all educational activities and prohibited him from counseling privately. He then retired from his position as head of Yeshivat Hakotel in Jerusalem, and moved with his family to Migdal near the Kinneret.

The forum wrote that it had "recently become aware that the limitations have been only partially applied" and they therefore felt obliged to go public.

"It is clear that Rabbi Elon did not do anything now," a source close to the forum told Haaretz. "I don't want to criticize the forum, but the whole story is that the rabbi did not meet the conditions and the limitations."

Elon called the matter a "terrible blood libel, a complaint without foundation," by a "person whose stability is doubtful."

Elon, 50, is the son of former Supreme Court vice-president Prof. Menachem Elon, the brother of former MK Benny Elon and of Be'er Sheva District Court Judge Joseph Elon, and once hosted a weekly television program on the Torah portion.

Sources close to Elon said no such complaints or rumors had ever been circulated and his students were shocked. His closest associates said he left public life due to health problems.

National Union chairman MK Yaakov Katz called the revelation "an earthquake like the one in Haiti."

Chaim Levinson contributed to this report.