(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
There were numerous indications on Monday that Shas chairman Arye Deri intends to lead the party into the coming elections despite his dramatic resignation from the Knesset last week.
Two Shas MKs said on Monday that they expect Deri to head the party’s election campaign and return to the Knesset, while in a recorded interview with the Uvda news program on Channel 2 broadcast on Monday night, Deri hinted that he would reverse his decision.
Deri resigned as a member of Knesset last Tuesday following the airing of a devastating video recording of the late Shas spiritual guide Rabbi Ovadia Yosef in which he calls Deri “a bad man” and someone who did not listen to his instructions.
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post on Monday, Shas MK Nissim Ze’ev said that “Arye [Deri] is expected to return to political activities as soon as possible.”
Ze’ev insisted that Deri’s resignation as an MK had not been for show. Upon seeing what Ze’ev described as the public’s desire for Deri to lead the party, Deri reconsidered his decision.
“Arye knows that he cannot have the same influence over political affairs if he is outside the Knesset, so we expect him to return in the coming days to political activities and eventually to the Knesset as well,” Ze’ev said.
Deri’s resignation from the Knesset took effect on Thursday and Lior Edri was sworn into the Knesset as his replacement, being the next man on the Shas electoral list from the 2013 elections.
During his interview with Uvda’s Ilana Dayan, Deri said he knew about the existence of the video recording for a month before it was aired and squarely blamed renegade Shas MK Eli Yishai for leaking the video.
He said that the Shas rabbis had called and told him that Yishai had personally shown them the video. Yishai denies having leaked it to Channel 2, although he previously told the press that he had a “black box” of revelations which would create a political upheaval if it was opened.
During the Uvda interview, Deri refused to address the content of the leaked video, in which Yosef expressed heavy criticism of Deri’s behavior as Shas chairman.
During the recording, Yosef said that Deri was “too independent” and did not listen to Yosef’s instructions, labeling him “a bad man” for doing the opposite of what he had asked in one particular instance.
Asked by his son Moshe Yosef who had led the initiative for Shas to tacitly back the Oslo Accords, the rabbi said that Deri had been in charge on the issue and that he had not intervened since Deri knew more than him on the details of a diplomatic agreement with the Palestinians.
Deri said in his interview that he would not “defend himself” against the questions raised by the rabbi’s comments because he would be “falling into the trap that was set” by those who leaked the video.
Asked if he was returning to lead the party into the election, Deri said he still did not know, but noted that “someone who does not change his mind is not a human, he’s an ass.”
Nati Lasri, a former director of the Shas party and a Shas Jerusalem Municipality Council member until last month, said that “not one Shas official thinks Deri actually quit politics. He resigned from the Knesset, not Shas. The whole thing was a gimmick.”