Mordechai Eliyahu, 81, a former chief rabbi who encouraged Israelis to oppose the removal of settlements and blamed Reform Jewry for the Holocaust, died Monday, a Jerusalem hospital said.

He was chief rabbi for Israel's Jews of Mideast origin from 1983-1993. He was born in the Old City of Jerusalem in 1929, the son of a Jewish sage and a mystic of Iraqi descent.

He became a lightning rod for extreme nationalist Israeli elements, especially religiously motivated settlers in the West Bank and Gaza.

He led prayers at a rally in Jerusalem in 2004 against Israel's intention to pull out of Gaza and some settlements in the West Bank. The plan was implemented despite settler resistance in 2005.