Former Shas leader Arye Deri will announce next week that he is forming a new
political faction to contest the upcoming elections, the haredi (ultra-Orthodox)
Mishpacha newspaper reported on Thursday.
According to the report, Deri
will stage a press conference next week to announce his decision to form a party
aimed at bridging the divide between different sectors of Israeli society, but
will nevertheless call on haredi voters to vote for haredi parties.
publication of the Mishpacha story comes following Shas chairman Eli Yishai’s
statements to the contrary on Thursday morning on the Israel Broadcasting
Authority’s (IBA) Reshet Bet radio station, that he did not believe Deri would
form a new political faction.
“It’s hard for me to believe that he will
form a new party,” Yishai said. “He always said he’d never go against the wishes
of Rabbi Ovadiah [Yosef, Shas’ spiritual leader]. He loves and respects Rabbi
Ovadiah, and I just don’t think he would do this.”
Asked whether Yosef
had confirmed that Yishai would lead Shas into the coming elections as party
chairman, he replied that this was indeed the case.
However, asked why
Yosef does not make a public statement on the matter, Yishai said elusively that
the only statement the rabbi would issue is one saying “vote for
Former Shas spokesman Itzik Sudri, who has close personal and
family ties to Yosef, said that in spite of the conflicting reports and
messages, nothing has yet been decided and that the Shas Council of Torah Sages
headed by Yosef has not discussed or ruled on the matter.
still open, as far as I’m aware no formal decision has been made on who will
lead Shas,” Sudri said on Thursday. “But I still think that there is more
likelihood that there will be some kind of unification rather than a
fragmentation of political forces.”
According to a Dachaf Institute poll
published this week for the Knesset Channel, if elections were held tomorrow, an
independent party led by Deri would garner just two seats, while Shas would take
Deri served 22 months of a three-year jail term from 2000-2002 for
accepting $155,000 in bribes during his tenure as director-general of the
Interior Ministry and then as interior minister.
interview with Reshet Bet, Yishai also took the opportunity to accuse Yair Lapid
of attempting to deceive the public into believing that he does not hate
“He’s behaving very nicely, as if he’s Little Red Riding Hood,”
“But it’s incumbent on Shas voters and anyone who cares
about Jewish values that he doesn’t succeed with his media spin.”