Shas insiders: Deri may yet return
By JEREMY SHARON
According to senior Shas figures, Deri demands top spot on party's electoral list and senior ministerial position.
Despite recent reports, Shas insiders are hopeful that former party leader Arye
Deri will return to the party for the next general election and not form a
Channel 2 reported on Monday that, according to associates
of Deri, Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef offered Deri the third spot on
the Shas electoral list after current party chairman and Interior Minister Eli
Yishai and Construction and Housing Minister Ariel Attias.
senior Shas figures, Deri refused and demanded the top spot and the senior
Were Deri to establish his own party, Yosef would
come out against him publicly, the sources were quoted as saying.
close to Deri are claiming that since one of the main issues in the next
election will be that of religion and state at a time of religious and secular
tensions, Deri could be a popular moderating figure at the head of a party to
bridge these divides, an option he prefers to playing second fiddle to
According to former Shas spokesman Itzik Sudri, however, the
likelihood of Deri splitting off and forming a separate haredi Sephardi party is
“We need to consolidate our power, not see it dispersed,” Sudri
told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday. “That is what Rabbi Ovadia is working
toward, but at the moment, before elections have been announced, everything
being said is merely speculation.”
He added that although many see a Deri
return to Shas alongside Yishai as an unobtainable dream, the possibility of
such an outcome nevertheless exists.
“Deri is a first-rate leader, and it
would be a shame to waste his talents. During this difficult time for the haredi
community, it would be good to see him back in a leadership position,” Sudri
On Monday, Yishai called on Deri to return to Shas during a meeting
of the Knesset faction, telling the press that he belonged with
Asked what the likely outcome would be, Yishai said simply that it
was Yosef and the party’s Council of Torah Sages who made the
“It's true, we always do what the rabbi says,” Yishai said
when challenged that this was his stock answer for difficult
Deri served 22 months of a three-year jail term from 2000-2002
for accepting $155,000 in bribes during his tenure as Interior Ministry
director-general and then as interior minister.
Renegade Shas MK Haim
Amsalem told Army Radio on Monday that in his opinion it was extremely unlikely
that Deri would form his own party, and noises being made about such an
eventuality were merely a way of threatening Shas.
“Rabbi Ovadia promised
Deri that he would return to lead the party when his period of exclusion from
politics was over,” Amsalem said.
“Everyone knows the game here, and
everyone knows that Deri is not going to establish his own party. He’s done
everything not to anger Rabbi Ovadia or Shas so that they’ll call him back for
what was promised to him.”
He speculated that “if the polls ahead of an
election show that Shas will not pick up the right amount of seats, and everyone
runs to Rabbi Ovadia and says, ‘Only Arye can save us,’ in a situation like this
it will be easier for Deri to return.”
Lahav Harkov contributed to this