Deri reaches out to Yishai to heal Shas rift

Deri orders his followers not to rejoice upon his return to the Shas leadership, because Yishai would see it as gloating.

May 5, 2013 19:43
1 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)

Reinstated Shas leader Arye Deri and new faction head Ariel Attias will convene the party’s MKs on Monday for the first time since Shas mentor Rabbi Ovadia Yosef announced his decision to fire former Shas chairman Eli Yishai on Thursday night.

Deri and Attias intend to use their speeches at the Knesset to reach out to Yishai and praise his handling of the party during the nearly 13 and a half years he headed it. Deri ordered his followers not to rejoice upon his return to the Shas leadership, because Yishai would see it as gloating.

“Eli Yishai deserves respect for maintaining the Shas chairmanship while I could not hold the job, which he did very well,” Deri told Army Radio. “He kept the party united and stable. But with all due respect, promises must be kept, especially by great rabbis. The rabbi [Yosef] promised me I would get my job back.”

Deri and Yishai met briefly at Yosef’s home in Jerusalem’s Har Nof neighborhood on Sunday morning.

They will hold a longer meeting when Yishai returns from a vacation he has taken to ponder his future. At that meeting, Deri will ask Yishai to work together with him for the benefit of the party.

“From today, there will be no more conflicts in Shas,” Deri said.

In his weekly sermon late on Saturday night, Yosef called Yishai “a righteous and honest man” and said he was grateful to him for his hard work and his loyalty.

But he defended his decision to reinstate Deri.

In an effort to unify the party’s ranks, Yosef asked Deri’s opponents in Shas to give the reinstated leader the benefit of the doubt.

“When [Deri] returned from prison, we were legally prevented from reinstating him,” Yosef said, noting that the gematria (Hebrew alphabetic math) for the word law is the same as for the word hell. “I promised him that his job was deposited and it would be returned. Now we can return the deposit to him and no one can harm us, so we did it.”

When Yishai returns from his vacation, he will announce his political future. His associates said he would remain in the Knesset but he has not decided yet whether to accept Yosef’s offer to head Shas’s education system El Hamaayan.

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