Arye Deri sticker 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Former Shas leader Arye Deri expressed outrage on Wednesday over a campaign that was apparently launched in an effort to prevent his return to politics.
Some 10,000 people received automated phone calls Tuesday night asking if they wanted Deri to “return to leadership and unite the people of Israel.”
Newspapers were sent mock advertisements with Deri’s picture and campaign promises about returning the Left to power.
In the ads “Deri” vowed to stop the extremists of Shas and the believers in Greater Israel, bring Kadima leader Tzipi Livni to power, and form a coalition with Meretz. The ad also promised to end the occupation, form a Palestinian state, and negotiate with Syria and Iran.
“Aryeh Deri – with a big smile, moving the Right to Left,” read a slogan in the ad, in a reference to a Dahaf Institute poll that found that a party led by Deri could win seven seats and transfer power to Livni and the Center- Left bloc.
Deri has been quoted as saying in private conversations that he would insist on the formation of a national-unity government if a party he intends to form would hold the balance of power.
Deri was so angered by the campaign that he gave a rare interview to Israel Radio to complain about it. He blamed the campaign on the extreme Right and said he doubted that his former colleagues in Shas were behind it.
“I checked to make sure the campaign wasn’t started by one of my supporters who mistakenly thought he was helping me,” Deri said. “I find it disgraceful that someone is wasting public money to tell people who not to vote for.”
Deri said the fact that his return was vocally opposed by far-Right
activist Baruch Marzel and Labor leadership candidate Shelly Yacimovich
was an indicator that the fear of his political comeback crossed
traditional political boundaries.
“There is no doubt that people are afraid,” Deri said. “I am sure if
polls showed I wouldn’t pass the electoral threshold, this wouldn’t be
Deri said he believed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s government was
stable and would last for another two years. But in a sign that he was
already campaigning, he criticized current Shas chairman Eli Yishai for
not taking action sooner to help young couples buy apartments.
“Shas ministers didn’t need the prime minister to form a super task
force and pass bills,” Deri said. “They control the Interior and Housing
It was in their hands.”
In a reference to Yishai, who is known for his efforts to expel foreign
workers, Deri said, “The best way to expedite building is to invite
foreign workers for a few months. That’s what they do in Europe and
that’s what they can do here in Israel. It would make it much cheaper.”