Arye Deri and Eli Yishai.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Yahad Party chairman Eli Yishai complained on Thursday that electoral fraud prevented his party from crossing the electoral threshold.
Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, Yishai said he was considering legal action, but that he has “not a drop of regret that I am no longer in Shas.” Yishai said he had great love for Shas voters – “who I distinguish totally from the person who leads the party,” in reference to chairman Arye Deri.
The Yahad leader hit out further at Deri, saying that Rabbi Ovadia Yosef’s prediction that the Shas Party would decline upon Deri’s return came true.
“Rabbi Ovadia [Yosef] said years ago that if Arye Deri returned Shas would loose 30-40 percent, and behold, this is what happened,” Yishai said Thursday.
On Wednesday Deri accused Yishai of polluting Shas with internal division and slander, in reference to the video tape that was released of the late Shas spiritual leader calling Deri “an evil man.” It was in the same video that Yosef made his prediction about Deri.
Yishai said he was considering an appeal to the courts over what he alleged was voter fraud against Yahad.
“A campaign of forgery was directed against us of hundreds and thousands of votes,” he said. “There were many voters whose vote was not heard or who weren’t able to vote,” he added.
“We have evidence and we are investigating all possibilities to appealing to the courts,” said Yishai. “I’ve never experienced anything like this in all my political life. If this is indeed what happened we will appeal and stand up for the truth, and if in the end this will be the final result we will all stand and say that we lose with dignity. I trust the legal authorities.”
After the final count, Yahad received 125,000 votes, constituting 2.97% of the vote, just a few thousand ballots short of the 3.25% needed to cross the electoral threshold.
Yishai said he would not be quitting political life and would continue to lead the Yahad movement.
He did not answer, however, if he would continue to work politically with the ultra-nationalist Otzma Yehudit party with whom Yahad united for the elections. The step was widely seen as an unnatural union designed to get both sides into Knesset given the high electoral threshold.
Yishai was criticized not only by Deri but also by Bayit Yehudi for drawing national- religious voters from them.
One Bayit Yehudi source said “if bulldozers knock down your homes, feel free to inform your neighbors that it is because of Eli Yishai, Yoni Chetboun and Baruch Marzel.”
Chetboun left Bayit Yehudi to join Yahad and Marzel was the Otzma Yehudit candidate placed No. 4 on the party’s electoral list.