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Photo by: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post
Deri calls for long-term Palestinian peace deal
By GIL HOFFMAN AND JEREMY SHARON
04/01/2013
Arye Deri, of the Shas leadership triumvirate, reveals dovish views on peace process in interview with 'Post.'
 
Arye Deri, one of the three chairmen of the Shas Party, revealed dovish views on the peace process in an interview with The Jerusalem Post on Thursday, calling for a long-term interim agreement with the Palestinian Authority.

Support for an interim agreement in which Israel would withdraw from parts of the West Bank without evacuating settlements has come in the past from politicians on the Center-Left, including Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz, but never from the leader of a party that for many years was considered right-wing.

“Shas is not Right or Left,” Deri said. “We ask rabbis what to do and we go by what they say. We aren’t nationalist. We believe Israel is ours because God gave it to us. I don’t believe I am an occupier. Our rabbis will decide what is best to do to avoid blood being spilled.”

When asked if Shas mentor Rabbi Ovadia Yosef regretted having the party abstain from voting on the Oslo Accords in 1993, Deri said Yosef has written that the accord did not prove itself and led to terrorist attacks. He said Yosef currently does not believe there is a partner on the Palestinian side for negotiations.

“The rabbi believes we should not pursue a final-status agreement,” Deri said. “He is in favor of pursuing longterm interim agreements as long as they do not endanger Israelis. That would be the best. Then we can get to see how they turn out. The advantage of long-term interim agreements is that they can be stopped and changed if they don’t work.”

Shas was seen as more moderate when it was led by Deri and abstained on the Oslo Accord vote. When he was succeeded by Eli Yishai, the party moved to the Right.

Until now it was unclear whether the party would moderate its message on diplomatic issues with Deri’s return, but he made clear that it would.

“I am not ready to live without hope,” Deri said. “We must consider what it means to annex 2 million Palestinians and control their education, health and welfare. The Israeli economy cannot bear that and I am not prepared to do that.” •
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