(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Shas chairman Arye Deri has offered to resign from the ultra-Orthodox party in order to protect what he said was the faction's former spiritual leader, the deceased Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, Israeli media reported Monday night.
Deri's move came after footage was made public on Sunday night of Yosef heavily criticizing Deri and expressing support for his rival, former Shas chairman Eli Yishai.
Channel 10 reported that it had obtained the text of the resignation letter Deri address to the Shas rabbinic leadership.
"The pain that pierced my heart yesterday was even more difficult than the passing of the late Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. My heart is torn in light of the terrible blasphemy, contempt of the Torah and insult of our honorable teacher [Yosef]. So I decided to appear in front of the virtue of your Torah and give back the job you have appointed me, " read the letter.
The footage from 2008 aired by Channel 2, showed Yosef calling Deri a thief and a bad man who did not listen to the rabbi’s instructions.
The incident set Shas in a position to face a severely damaged political future, given that political legitimacy in the haredi world is based largely on rabbinic support.
The recent establishment of the Yahad Ha’am Itanu party, headed by Yishai, has badly dented Shas’s standing in opinion polls, and the latest revelations could further harm the party’s political fortunes.Jeremy Sharon contributed to this report.