Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef has sent a message to former party leader Arye Deri warning him not to establish his own faction, Army Radio reported Sunday night.
A spokesman for Deri denied that any such message from Rabbi Yosef had been received.
Rumors have been rife about the possibility of Deri forming a new faction, because of Rabbi Yosef’s refusal to accede to his demand to re-take the Shas leadership from current chairman Eli Yishai.
On Thursday afternoon, the weekly haredi newspaper Mishpacha reported that Deri intends to announce the formation of a new political faction at the end of the 30-day period of mourning for this father, who passed away less than two weeks ago. According to a spokesman for Deri, the new party will seek to build bridges between the secular and religious community.
According to the Army Radio report, Yosef warned that he would respond in a harsh and public manner if Deri decides to form a new party.
Yosef is said to have offered Deri third spot on the Shas electoral list, behind Yishai and Housing and Construction Minister Ariel Attias, an offer that Deri supposedly refused.