Posters criticizing the decision to bring Arye Deri back to Shas appeared around Jerusalem over the weekend, seemingly produced by party insiders.
The posters criticize the close associates of Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, blaming them for the decision to allow Deri to return.
“How did you lead our rabbi astray... how have you abandoned the holy movement? How have you appointed a criminal at its head?” the poster asks. “Let our rabbi decide,” it adds.
It is unclear who is behind the poster campaign.
In his weekly Saturday night Torah lesson, Yosef said that the events of last week, when a deal restoring Deri to Shas was ironed out, were a “sanctification of God’s name.”
In the agreement, Interior Minister Eli Yishai agreed that the chairmanship of the party, which he held, would be suspended until after the January 22 election, that he would receive the No. 1 spot on the Shas electoral list, that Deri would be No. 2 and that the final decision as to who will lead the party would be made after the election.
Construction and Housing Minister Ariel Attias, who brokered the deal, was also brought in to the leadership with Deri and Yishai, and the three of them will lead the party into the election.
“We have a three-stranded thread which will not quickly be disconnected, Rabbi Eliyahu Yishai, Rabbi Arye Deri and Rabbi Ariel Attias,” Yosef said. “These three rabbis...
sanctified the name of heaven by accepting that which the members of the Shas council told them. God will bless them because they have sanctified his name in public.”
Because of the animosity and tensions that have built up between the Yishai and Deri camps, Attias was brought in to act as a bridge between the two and preserve harmony in the party, at least till after the election.
In reference to the upcoming election campaign, Yosef said that Shas has stood on the side of yeshivot, on the side of the poor and the weak.
On Thursday, Yosef was overheard by Army Radio speaking to close associate Rabbi Reuven Elbaz saying that the agreement was “a good first step” but that he should phone both of Yishai and Deri to“strengthen them and encourage them.”
The new three-pronged leadership of the Shas party, Eli Yishai, Aryeh Deri and Ariel Atias, convened Sunday night in order define their specific roles in the coming election campaign.
Deri will be leading the overall election strategy and has been appointed chairman of the campaign staff.
Yishai will take charge of arrangements for the election day itself and Attias will head up the party’s public relations team.
Deri has vowed to focus on social issues, despite Yishai’s previous intention to focus on his efforts to deport illegal immigrants.
Accompanying the ongoing tension between Yishai and Deri is speculation over the future of their respective supporters.
Haredi media outlets reported over the weekend that Religious Services Minister Ya’acov Margi is considering stepping down from his post and retiring from political life because of his outspoken support for Yishai over Deri in recent days.
However, a Shas source denied on Sunday that any such decisions would be based on internal party squabbles, saying that if Yishai and Deri can publicly reach an agreement so can everyone else in the party.