Brig. Gen. (res.) Avichai Rontzki, the former Chief IDF Rabbi, announced Saturday evening his intention to run in the primaries for Bayit Yehudi's list.
Last summer Rontzki found himself in the middle of a furor during Operation Protective Edge, when political sources accused him of leaking classified information to Economy Minister Naftali Bennett.
The scandal caused anger towards Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, who said at the time that "under no circumstances can ministers speak to officers without my permission and knowledge. There was such communication, but it's illegitimate, inappropriate and has been taken care of."
Rontzki is a graduate of Mercaz HaRavYeshiva and the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem. He founded the Hesder Yeshiva in Itamar and served as its leader.
Rabbi Rontzki was drafted into the IDF's Flotilla 13 in 1969. He later transferred to the paratrooper brigade, served as a platoon commander, and as deputy commander of the 890th airborne battalion.
He commanded a commando company in the south during the Yom Kippur War. During this period, he began to become newly religious, along with his wife, Ronit, whom he met when she worked as a company clerk.
Following his release from the army, Rontzki worked with street kids on behalf of the Municipality of Jerusalem. Later, he was a rabbinical teacher at Ateret Cohanim Yeshiva in Jerusalem. In 1980, he helped found Elon Moreh Yeshiva and taught there.
In 1984, the Rontzkis were among the founders of the settlement of Itamar, in the West Bank, which was founded by several families from the Machon Meir Yeshiva inJerusalem. Rabbi Rontzki was the settlement's religious leader during its early years, and he founded the settlement's hesder yeshiva in 1998.
In addition to his religious duties, he continued to serve in the reserves and rose in rank to the position of chief of staff of the Samaria Territorial Brigade. In 2006, he was appointed the IDF's Chief Rabbi.
"The decision to run in the primaries was accompanied by many misgivings," said the rabbi. "Working in politics does not come naturally to me. But I became convinced of the great influence that can be reached through the Knesset."