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Wrangling between Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar and Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman prevented yesterday's planned appointment of a permanent chairman of the rabbinical court system and the selection of judges for the High Rabbinical Court.

Sephardi leaders including Shas chairman Eli Yishai, Amar and one of his predecessors, Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, have been advocating for the appointment of Rabbi Binyamin Atias, a rabbinical judge in Tel Aviv and the brother of Housing and Construction Minister Ariel Atias.

Neeman wants a non-Haredi official like Rabbi Yisrael Weiss, a religious-Zionist leader and a former chief rabbi of the Israel Defense Forces.

Instead, the committee for the selection of rabbinical judges, which Neeman heads, extended by a year the term of Rabbi Shlomo Dichovsky, who has been serving as the interim chairman since August.

Dichovsky, an Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox rabbi who is considered a moderate, was a compromise candidate who is widely esteemed, though he is opposed by non-Hasidic Ashkenazi Haredi leaders.

The 72-year-old rabbi has retired from the rabbinical court and refuses to become the permanent chairman, but acceded to Neeman's request to continue in the post temporarily.