Senior Shas figure, former communications as well as construction and housing minister, and Knesset member for eight years Ariel Attias, 44, announced on Thursday that he has decided to resign from his position as an MK.
Attias said his decision was made due to the heavy work load involved in his parliamentary activities and his wish to step back after the death in October of renowned rabbi and Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.
“After many years of intensive work for the good of the public, day and night, and after the death of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, I felt the need to take a time out from the Knesset,” Attias said in his statement to the press.
He added that he had been fortunate to be “an emissary of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef” and to serve the public to the best of his abilities.
Attias is an ally of party chairman MK Arye Deri who, The Jerusalem Post understands, sought to convince Attias not to quit.
He has wanted to step down for several months it is believed and Deri’s opposition to the move delayed his departure.
He said in his statement, however, that he would continue to help Shas and to engage in public activities for the party and movement outside the political system.
Attias will be replaced by Yoav Ben-Tzur, who was placed 12th on the Shas electoral list in 2013.
Ben-Tzur is formerly headed Shas’s network of religious schools, Ma’ayan Hahinuch Hatorani, He entered the Knesset in 2006 after being placed in fifth spot on the Shas list in the for the general election of that year, and became Communications Minister in the government established by former prime minister Ehud Olmert.
Speaking to ultra-Orthodox radio station Kol Berama on Thursday, Deri said that Attias would continue to work within the party.