Arye Deri and Eli Yishai.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Shas chairman Arye Deri hit out harshly at MK Eli Yishai on Saturday night for breaking away from the party, declaring that he was not “following the path of Maran,” Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, its late spiritual guide.
Yishai announced last week that he was splitting from Shas and forming his own party, Speaking on Channel 2’s Meet the Press, Deri addressed Yishai directly and said they had offered him everything possible, but that he decided instead to create conflict and was going against what Yosef would have wanted.
“You are causing division and harming that which Maran worked to build,” said Deri.
The Shas chair said that if it was too difficult for Yishai to accept Yosef’s decision to appoint Deri as chair, ousting Yishai in the process, he should just “go home,” adding that “politics isn’t everything.”
Deri made his way back to Shas at the end of 2012 ahead of the 2013 elections when the party was headed by a triumvirate of Yishai, Deri and then MK Ariel Atias, but Deri eventually was appointed the lone party chair.
“Who appointed me head of the movement?” Deri asked rhetorically.
“Maran,” he answered, and called on Yishai to go to Yosef’s grave to ask for his forgiveness.
Referring to Yishai’s new party, Ha’am Itanu, Deri said only Shas was the true continuation of Yosef’s ideas and path, noting that Yishai had brought in “different partners whose paths are different.”
Yishai’s office said he declined to respond to Deri’s comments, except to say that he “relies on the Jewish people to do the right thing on Election Day.”