(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Shas leader Arye Deri's resignation from the Knesset took effect Thursday night, two days after he submitted it to Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein.
The next name on the Shas list, Beit Yosef kosher certification head Lior Edri, automatically entered the Knesset. He is set to be sworn in when the Knesset meets in a special session next Monday.
Channel 10 reported Thursday night that Deri will return to the leadership of Shas as early as next week. Shas spokesman Itzik Sudri and the head of the effort to return Deri to politics, Rabbi Yehuda Azrad, denied the report.
Sources said Deri was still upset over a controversial 2008 video of the late Shas mentor Rabbi Ovadia Yosef calling him a bad man who would distance voters because he is perceived as a thief.
Sudri said Deri was vacationing in the North with his wife Yaffa and would only consider returning to politics just ahead of when parties have to submit their lists to the Knesset January 29. Azrad said thousands of people have visited a tent outside Deri's house in Jerusalem's Har Nof neighborhood that was erected in order to push for his return.
Deri telephoned his supporters on Thursday and said, "We will continue together. I am with you. You can take down your tent and return to the yeshiva to study Torah."
"I promise you one thing, I have not forgotten what Rabbi Ovadia Yosef told me in the hospital before he died: "Aryeh, I ask you to continue to worry about my impoverished sons."
Comparing his supporters to IDF soldiers, Deri said that they are the "elite commando forces" of the nation of Israel.
Even Rabbi Meir Mazuz, the new mentor of former Shas chairman Eli Yishai wrote Deri Thursday morning calling upon him to return to the helm of Shas. Mazuz said that even though he disagreed with Shas, he did not want the party to self-destruct.
In the letter, Mazuz insisted that Yishai was not behind the video.
“Our hands did not spill this blood,” Mazuz said, referring to the character assassination of Deri in the video.Jeremy Sharon contributed to this report