Arye Deri and Eli Yishai.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Yahad chairman Eli Yishai sent a letter on Monday to his bitter rival Shas chairman Arye Deri calling for peace and unity between the two parties for Election Day and in the coming Knesset in order to defeat “evil decrees” against the Torah and against the working class.
Deri dismissed Yishai’s missive as hypocritical and said that he had pleaded for cooperation from Yishai before he quit Shas, but to no avail.
Yishai broke away from Shas in December last year after the Knesset was dissolved following more than two years of internecine conflict between the two, after Deri returned to the party and ousted Yishai as chairman in 2013.
“I call on you as a former work colleague, as someone who has the merit of laws that have benefited the less fortunate, thousands of Torah students, yeshivas, and mikvaot [ritual baths], let us join forces for Election Day,” wrote Yishai.
He acknowledged they had experienced a stormy and angry period.
“This is not a time for war, everyone will vote in accordance with the instructions of their rabbis, but we must remember that we will need every vote after the elections so that when an evil decree is raised or a proposal that would harm the weaker sectors of society we will be able to stand against them like a wall.
“The time has come to join hands and to end the dispute,” Yishai concluded, finishing his letter with a biblical quote uttered by the sons of the Jewish patriarch Jacob “because we are the sons of one man,” in reference to former Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.
Deri brushed aside Yishai’s appeal, accusing the Yahad leader of employing threats and of leaking a damaging video of Yosef to the press in which the rabbi called Deri an “evil man” and “too independent.”
“Now at the finish line he wants to make up,” asked Deri speaking to Reshet Bet radio station, saying he was “tired of such spin.”
Deri also accused Yishai of being inconsistent in the hard-right positions he has taken on diplomatic issues, the Israel-Palestinian conflict and security concerns.
“I was not the one who sat in government with [former prime minister] Ehud Barak. which nearly returned the Golan, with Olmert who conducted negotiations over Jerusalem. The person who released thousands of terrorists was not me, but now all of a sudden everything’s changed?”