Deri blames Yishai for failure in municipal elections

Shas chairman says rival had not helped in the municipal elections in Elad and elsewhere which contributed to Shas losses.

October 26, 2013 22:43
2 minute read.
Shas MKs Eli Yishai and Arye Deri at the Knesset, April 22, 2013.

Deri and Yishai at Knesset 370. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)

Shas chairman Arye Deri hit out at former party leader Eli Yishai in an interview on Saturday night, saying that his rival had not helped in the municipal elections in Elad and elsewhere which contributed to Shas losses.

“Eli Yishai was invited to Elad and he didn’t want to come,” said Deri on Channel 2’s Meet the Press program. “He was invited to speak but didn’t want to come.”

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Shas candidate Tzuriel Krispal lost out to United Torah Judaism’s Yisrael Porush in the mayoral race in a city which has a Sephardi haredi majority and traditionally has had a Shas mayor.

Last year, MK Yishai fought fiercely against Deri’s return to the party but was unable to prevent him being made joint party leader, along with MK Ariel Attias and Yishai himself ahead of the January general election.

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef then appointed Deri party chairman, relegating Yishai to second- class status in the Shas power structure.

Supporters and associates of Yishai attacked Deri in the wake of Yosef’s death on October 7 for what they saw as his politicization of the rabbi’s funeral and of the memorial rally held at the end of the seventh day of the shiva mourning period.

Yishai was not able to give a eulogy during the rabbi’s funeral and was prevented from speaking at the memorial service, while Yosef’s son and new party power broker Rabbi David Yosef did not mention his name when he thanked Shas officials for their contribution to the party.

During Saturday night’s interview, Deri called directly on Yishai to work with him to take the party forward.

“I called on him and I call on him again now, ‘Eli, come with us, your home is with us, come work together with us, it’s enough already with these things, it is harming Shas.’ There’s no doubt that reports about division in Shas have hurt the party.”

Yishai and his office declined to reply to Deri’s comments.

Last Monday, Shas canceled a scheduled faction meeting saying that all party MKs were in the field campaigning for the next day’s municipal elections.

However The Jerusalem Post is aware of a meeting that took place between Yishai and party ally MK Nissim Ze’ev in the Knesset that day.

Deri also hit out at Agudat Yisrael, the hassidic party that is part of the United Torah Judaism Knesset faction, accusing it of handing victory in the Jerusalem mayoral race to incumbent Nir Barkat by refusing to publicly back Likud Beytenu challenger Moshe Lion, who was strongly supported by Deri and publicly endorsed by the Shas Council of Torah Sages.

“It was the haredim who crowned Barkat as mayor of Jerusalem,” Deri said, meaning the hassidic groups. “At the last moment, they changed all the understandings that they had with [Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor] Liberman.”

The Shas chairman then attacked Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for good measure, saying that despite the fact that Lion was Likud Beytenu’s candidate, the prime minister had not publicly backed Lion.

Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.

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