Arye Deri and Eli Yishai.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Yahad party leader Eli Yishai promised a political comeback in the next election Monday in his first interview since failing to cross the electoral threshold when polls closed on March 17.
Yishai turned down offers ahead of the election to run with Shas and receive its second portfolio when it would join the government.
Instead, Yishai formed Yahad together with Yoni Chetboun, a religious-Zionist activist who was elected to the Knesset with Bayit Yehudi in 2009 and rebelled against the party soon after.
He said he did not regret leaving Shas. He attributed his failure to cross the threshold to the behavior of his nemesis and successor as Shas leader, MK Arye Deri.
“I was too gentle [against Deri], and next time I won’t be,” Yishai told Channel 2. “There were attempts to besmirch me in the campaign, and the public was confused. What Deri did was grave.”
Yishai said current Shas MKs have complained to him that “Deri is behaving like dictator.” Describing Deri’s hatred for him, Yishai said “he would prefer to lose an eye so I would lose two eyes.”
A Shas spokesman responded that by forming a party rather than running with Shas, Yishai cost the Right four seats. The spokesman accused Yishai of using the interview to try to gain sympathy and contributions out of pity to cover his massive debts to suppliers and party staff.
Yishai said his days are devoted to fund-raising to cover the debts. He noted that his was not the only party still working on that task more than three months after the election, and that Kadima had not paid its debts from the 2009 race.
“I look at all of the debt as personally on me," he said.