The Shas Council of Torah Sages officially appointed Interior Minister and
former party chairman Eli Yishai to the No. 1 spot on the party’s
electoral list on Thursday, with Shas founder and joint leader Arye Deri
receiving second place and Construction and Housing Minister Ariel Attias taking
the third spot.
The position of party chairman has nevertheless been left
vacant, as was agreed in the deal that brought Deri back to the party, and there
will be a decision on the matter after the election.
Thursday’s decision, the announcement is unlikely to put an end to the political
intrigue within the party and accompanying media speculation surrounding the
question of who will lead the party following the election.
press conference announcing the full list at the residence of Shas spiritual
leader and council president Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the temporary three-pronged
Shas leadership of Deri, Yishai and Attias spoke together of the harmony
reigning within the troika and the importance of party unity ahead of the
“In Shas, no one has left,” said Deri, in reference to the
multiple party switches that have occurred in several political factions over
the last few weeks.
“As you can see, thank God, no one has deserted, no
one has run away, we’re all here,” he continued. “Placement [on the list] is not
important, titles are not important; what’s important is the mission.”
added that he had also requested that the Council of Torah Sages place him at
No. 15 on the list, presumably as a way of guaranteeing that the party would
take 15 seats through his personal popularity. However, he said, the council had
refused his request.
Recent polls give Shas between nine and 11
After the first three slots, the top of the party list is almost
identical to that of the previous election in 2009, apart from the omission of
renegade Shas MK Haim Amsallem, who has established his own party, Am
Although party sources indicated earlier this week that several
new faces could replace more experienced figures on the list, none of those
placed higher than No. 12.
Deri in particular was in favor of bringing in
new blood, especially since the group of Shas MKs who currently fill the top 11
places are perceived to be loyal to Yishai.
During the 13 years of Deri’s
exile from the party following his imprisonment for accepting bribes, and his
subsequent ban from entering the Knesset, Yishai largely replaced Deri’s
loyalists in the front rows of the political party.
Despite the semblance
of unity the party members presented on Thursday, a document that the haredi
news website Kikar Hashabbat exposed later that afternoon possibly indicates
that Deri is closing in on the chairmanship position and will likely take the
reins after the election.
In a letter addressed to Knesset Speaker Reuven
Rivlin, Yishai informed the speaker that Deri was replacing him as party proxy.
Although the position is of a technical and bureaucratic nature, the haredi news
outlet claimed that it was proof positive of Deri’s increasing dominance over
Responding to media questions about the chairmanship outside
Yosef’s residence after the press conference, Deri said there was no legal
requirement for a party chairman and that such issues would take time to sort
The first 15 places on Shas’s list are, in order: Eli Yishai, Arye
Deri, Ariel Attias, Yitzhak Cohen, Meshulam Nahari, Amnon Cohen, Ya’acov Margi,
David Azoulai, Yitzhak Vaknin, Nissim Ze’ev, Avraham Michaeli, Yoav Ben-Tzur,
Lior Adari, Ami Iluz, Eli Dadoun.