Former Shas chairman Arye Deri is prepared to form a socioeconomically-focused
political party that could run in the next election if he is not welcomed back
to the leadership of Shas, sources close to Deri said Wednesday.
former Shas party head has all the necessary infrastructure. His brother,
attorney Shlomo Deri, registered a party called Kavod Lemasoret (Respect for
Tradition) four years ago. Arye Deri could run with it, whether with that name
or a different one.
Nonetheless, he still would rather run in Shas if the
party’s mentor, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, honors a promise he made to Deri in 1999
when he temporarily gave the job to Eli Yishai “as a deposit” until Deri
returned from prison.
Shas’s current number two, Construction and Housing
Minister Ariel Atias, has expressed support for a return to the party’s top spot
by Deri, but Yishai has refused to budge. Possible compromises have been raised,
including keeping Yishai first on the party’s Knesset list but making Deri its
The decision will be made by Yosef once elections are
Yishai has expressed confidence that the rabbi would rule in his
“In Shas, no one goes against Rabbi Ovadia Yosef,” he said. “There
won’t be internal fights in Shas.”
In May, when it appeared that Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu would call for elections in September, Deri was
about to announce the formation of a new party. He delayed the announcement
because his father died.
This time, Deri intends to be extra-careful and
not say anything prematurely. But he did note that Shas had lost some 150,000
votes since the 1999 election, in which he won the party 17 seats.
one can guarantee there will be elections,” a source close to Deri said. “It
could be a game Bibi is playing again. We are waiting for the Knesset to really
dissolve itself. Arye said he would head a party in the next election without
specifying whether it would be Shas or a new party, and that remains
Speaking to interviewer Ilana Dayan at the Presidential Conference
in Jerusalem in June 2011, Deri said he planned to lead a party that would be
neither religious nor Sephardi.
“In the next election, I will head a
party, but not one that will allow me to represent my voters,” he said. “I am on
the way back to politics in the next election, with God’s help. I can’t say yet
in what framework, but I made the decision over the past year.”
said he preferred not to go to early elections, but added that Shas would be
prepared at any point should Netanyahu initiate them.
Responding to the
prime minister’s statement that he would initiate early elections if an
agreement to pass the 2013 budget could not be made with Shas and other
coalition partners, Yishai said his party was “ready yesterday” for elections
since it did not need to hold primaries.