(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Just 13 days after he resigned his Knesset seat and said he was quitting political life, Shas chairman Arye Deri announced on Monday that he is returning to lead the party into the upcoming elections.
“I accept with humility and a bowed head the order of the Council of Torah Sages headed by council president Maran Rabbi Shalom Cohen,” said Deri, in reference to a letter sent to him by Cohen yesterday telling him he must return to lead Shas.
“I was raised and educated all my life to adhere to the instructions of our rabbis, and therefore after a difficult period in which I conducted a personal and familial accounting of myself in which I weighed various considerations, I decided that the Shas movement, the movement of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef and its hundreds of thousands of voters, is more important than any other consideration,” he continued in a statement issued by his office to the press.
“With head raised, proudly and determinedly, I will continue to lead the movement in order to continue the life’s work of Maran [Yosef] and to be there for all those whom the state has left behind,” he concluded.
Deri resigned from the Knesset on December 30
following the airing of a damaging video in which the late spiritual leader of the Shas movement, Yosef, said that Deri is “too independent” and does not listen to instructions given to him by the rabbi, and called him a “bad person.”
Although he resigned his Knesset seat, Deri’s letter of resignation as chairman of Shas was never accepted by the movement’s Council of Torah Sages, which gave him an avenue to promptly retract his retreat from political life.
On Sunday, Cohen, the new spiritual leader of the Shas movement, wrote to Deri telling him he does not accept his letter of resignation and said Deri is obliged to return to the party to lead it once again.
“You do not have, in any way, permission to leave, and I hereby instruct you to return to lead the holy movement which is entirely holy and whose goal is to increase the glory of Heaven, to hear the cries of the poor and to increase Torah amid the Jewish people,” Cohen wrote to Deri.
Criticism of Deri’s actions was voiced last week by former Shas party director Nati Lasri, who called the Shas chairman’s resignation “a gimmick” and part of a strategy designed to divert attention from the content of the leaked video.