Deri working to form new socioeconomic party

Former Shas chairman says new party will be neither haredi nor Sephardi, will act as bridge across many divides in society.

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
December 24, 2010 04:35
2 minute read.
Arye Deri.

Arye Deri 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

Former Shas chairman Arye Deri is working on establishing a new socioeconomic party that will be neither haredi nor Sephardi.

In an interview with Ma’ariv political analyst Shalom Yerushalmi to be published on Friday, Deri said he wants the party to act as a bridge across the many divides in Israeli society – between religious and secular, Right and Left, Ashkenazi and Sephardi and rich and poor. To that end, he said, he intends to draft well-known and respected people from all sectors.

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His ultimate goal is to return to the position he held as Shas leader when he held the balance of power and could decide whether the Right or Left would be able to form a coalition. He said he would make his recommendation to the president about who should form a government contingent on the formation of a national-unity government.

“The Right could make peace but is not ready to pull the trigger,” Deri told Yerushalmi.

“The Left cannot even begin a diplomatic process on its own. After the election, I will recommend to the president that Binyamin Netanyahu form the government, but I will insist that he form a government with Kadima.”

Deri and his strategists are working under the assumption that Shas has turned off too many voters by being too haredi and too right-wing.

They said current Shas chairman Eli Yishai had lost around 300,000 potential voters, based on the 17 seats Deri won in 1999 compared with the 11 it has now and the children of the voters from those six mandates who can now vote. Deri intends to win back those voters along with many more.

Kadima pollster Kalman Geyer recently found in a survey he initiated that a socioeconomic party led by Deri would win eight mandates and would leave Shas with only three seats. Deri’s associates said this poll was more significant than a New Wave poll broadcast on Wednesday that found that he could win 15 seats at the helm of Shas, because he did not intend to return to head Shas.

Sources close to Deri said they hoped he would receive the blessing of Shas mentor Rabbi Ovadia Yosef to form a new party that would also be inspired by him. They said he still was close to Yosef and he considered him a saint, but they complained that others had taken control over the 90-year-old rabbi.

Yishai’s associates called Deri’s new party a “big joke” and said Deri’s goals were “very unrealistic.”

They expressed satisfaction with the results of the New Wave poll, which found that Yishai would still lead Shas to 10 seats despite the criticism he has faced for his role in the Carmel fire and several other recent controversies.

When asked whether he would be interested in joining a socioeconomic party led by Deri, Labor MK Amir Peretz said no one connected to Deri had called him and that he “does not answer hypothetical questions.”


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