(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Shas chairman Aryeh Deri is concerned about his position in his party and worried about his MKs’ loyalties, a leaked phone conversation between him and the son of Shas’s spiritual leader has revealed.
The recorded phone conversation, which was leaked to Channel 2 and broadcast Monday night, was between Deri and Rabbi Yaakov Cohen, son of Rabbi Shalom Cohen, the 86-year-old head of the Shas Council of Torah Sages.
During the conversation, Deri expressed his anger that Shas’s spiritual leader recently had met with Jerusalem Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, who loathes Deri for having prevented him from serving a second term as Israel’s chief rabbi and who is close with Eli Yishai, Deri’s political opponent and former Shas chairman.
The conversation between Deri and Cohen seemingly focused on Shas’s waning position in opinion polls and concerns within the party over that situation and the police investigations into Deri.
“I’ve told you 50 times, I’m not an idiot; I know how much Amar could help us,” Deri said, according to the leaked conversation. “But I also know that on the same day [Amar returns to Shas], I will have closed down Shas, because Amar wants to have control.”
“He’s bored all day; he wants to control,” he said. “He needs the power. What your father flees from, he’s the opposite – he has to be in the headlines every day and be involved in everything.”
Deri said Amar had no worthy students or Torah scholars in his entourage.
He did, however, concede that Amar would be “the most fitting to be chairman of Shas,” perhaps meaning chairman of the Council of Torah Sages, seemingly a strange thing to tell the son of the current chairman.
Deri accused Shas MK Yaakov Margi, who has always been considered close to Yishai and Amar, of trying to remove him as Shas chairman and of plotting within the party behind his back to achieve that goal.
A poll for Channel 2 broadcast on November 1 showed Shas having just four Knesset seats, down from their current total of seven and on the verge of not passing the electoral threshold, which is essentially four seats.
In a poll broadcast by Channel 10 on October 28, Shas had only three seats, which would not be enough to enter the Knesset.