Report: Shas set to name Deri as chairman

Haredi website: Shas approves Rabbi Ovadia Yosef's decision to reappointment Deri as party head after exile from politics.

May 2, 2013 17:59
1 minute read.
Eli Yishai, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef and Arye Deri

Eli Yishai, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef and Arye Deri 521. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)


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Arye Deri’s journey back to the leadership of the Shas party he helped create was on the verge of completion Thursday night with the party set to announce him as undisputed party chairman.

Shas’ Council of Torah Sages, a panel of four rabbis including Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, met on Thursday morning to make a final decision on the matter, and approved Yosef’s decision to return Deri to the party’s top position, according to reports on the haredi website Kikar Hashabbat.

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It was also decided to appoint former Shas chairman Eli Yishai as chairman of the Shas education system and MK Ariel Atias as chairman of the Shas Knesset faction who will take over from MK Avraham Michaeli.

Exiled from politics for 13 years following his conviction and jail sentence for bribe taking while a government minister, Deri returned to front-line politics late last year ahead of January’s general election.

His return was bitterly opposed by then Shas chairman Eli Yishai who led the party since Deri was forced to stand down, but his return was sealed by a compromise deal in which Deri, Yishai and Ariel Atias were made co-Shas leaders, with none of the triumvirate appointed chairman and Yishai given number one spot on the party’s electoral list.

According to Shas sources, Deri’s influence within the party has grown inexorably since his return, which led to infighting over party policy and direction with Yishai and within the Knesset faction. 

Deri’s appointment as party chairman now seals his position as ultimate political authority in Shas, although the movement’s spiritual leader, the revered Rabbi Yosef, is the final arbiter of party policy.

Deri is said to have the ear of Yosef to a greater extent than Yishai, although Yishai remains a favorite of the rabbi.

It was Yosef who put made the final decision to appoint Deri as party chair, having promised Deri in 1999, just before he began his 22-month jail sentence, that he would return to the part as leader after his stint in prison.

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