Aryeh Deri during Shas Conference on February 10th, 2019.
(photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/ MAARIV)
Shas chairman Arye Deri made an unmistakable appeal to wavering Shas voters on Sunday night to vote for the haredi party in the upcoming elections by vowing to back Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to form the next coalition.
Deri made his comments at Shas’s opening election rally, which was unambiguously entitled “Starting on the Right Foot,” where he was treated like a rock star as the party’s new election jingles were pumped out, as strobe and disco lights danced over the party leader.
The event – held in a celebratory hall in Bat Yam – was a diminished affair from the 2015 election rally held in the huge Menora Mivtachim Arena in Tel Aviv. Here, only half the hall was filled with a few hundred activists and supporters.
Deri spent a large portion of his speech praising Netanyahu’s leadership, expressing sympathy for the prime minister’s legal travails and emphasizing Shas’s loyalty to him.
Deri is concerned that Shas voters may abandon the party in order to ensure that Likud and the right-wing religious bloc forms the next government. This comes in the wake of Netanyahu’s legal difficulties and the threat that a center-left bloc led by Benny Gantz will take the lead.
The hard-right Yahad party led by former Shas chairman Eli Yishai, also remains a problem for Shas, as does the possibility that haredi voters may vote for non-sectoral right-wing parties including the Likud.
“If you vote Shas you’ll get Bibi [Netanyahu] and Shas,” Deri averred.
“Netanyahu is the best prime minister we’ve had. We support him and will recommend him to the president to be the next prime minister.”
“Everyone needs to know if you fulfill the will of the Maran [Rabbi Ovadia Yosef] and vote Shas you’ll be fulfilling [Yosef’s] will and get Bibi as well,” he underlined.
The Shas chairman also said that he does not favor running on a joint list with Ashkenazi haredi party United Torah Judaism, saying that the two parties’ rabbinical councils should convene and declare after the submission of electoral lists to vote for both Shas and UTJ.
“Let us bring together the three Rabbinical Councils of Torah Sages after the submission of electoral lists and issue a clear statement only to vote for the haredi parties. Sephardim for Shas and Ashkenazim for UTJ. That is how we can maximize our strength,” he said.
Deri also appealed to his haredi base, and slammed Gantz for supporting civil unions, as well as public transport on Shabbat.
“I will never forget what Maran told me ‘Aryeh don’t forget two things. Protect the Torah and protect the poor. Those are what guide us and this is our mission.’” said Deri.
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