(photo credit: )
Israel is suffering from a leadership vacuum and
the crisis will not be solved until the political system is changed,
former Shas leader Aryeh Deri said Sunday in a speech about "the
challenges of leadership in the public sector and Israeli politics" at
Jerusalem's Lander Institute.
has made increasingly clear in recent weeks that he intends to make a
political comeback as soon as possible. He refused to discuss his
political future with reporters at the event, but he hinted his
comeback was imminent in a recent conversation with Kadima MK Shaul
While current Shas chairman Eli Yishai is noticeably absent on
the itinerary for next month's Herzliya Conference, Deri will be a
featured speaker at the week-long event that is addressed by the
nation's top leadership. The electoral reforms Deri advocated in his
speech on Sunday have all been repeatedly vetoed by Shas in Deri's
Deri called for electing the prime minister in direct
elections, mandating that he automatically serve four years, and
requiring him to appoint professionals to each cabinet position instead
of Knesset members. He also advocated raising the electoral threshold
and electing at least half the Knesset in direct, regional elections.
"If Knesset members were chosen in regional
elections, they would know that they have to be in constant contact
with their constituents and help the average citizen," Deri said. "That
way we would get better and more serious people in the Knesset."
Deri said the current system of government discourages
long-term planning because prime ministers would prefer to invest in
short-term plans they would get credit for finishing rather than
long-term projects that might be cancelled by their successor. He said
the best people don't go into politics because of the Israeli system's
emphasis on parties and primaries and not on substance.
are in a leadership crisis and there is a leadership vacuum, not just
in Israel but in the entire world," Deri said. "Our system was right
when the state was founded and we were ingathering the exiles who were
afraid of disenfranchisement. But now the system prevents upgrading our
leadership in this country. A prime minister has no chance of
succeeding with the coalition system, knowing he can fall at any
Deri also decried a lack of values among Israel's
leadership. He said the proper example of a Jewish leader was Moses,
who he said was humble, patient, tolerant, and knew how to show
Asked by reporters after his speech when he will return to the
nation's leadership, Deri said, "When the time comes to decide, I
A bill has been proposed in the Knesset that would prevent
people like Deri who served jail sentences for corruption from getting
elected to the parliament.
Shas officials responded to Deri's speech by accusing him of populism.
They said he would speak differently if he were bound by the realities of representing a haredi party and its rabbis.
"The perspective from inside the political system is different,"
a Shas official said. "If he was inside, he would find it correct to
stick to Shas's principles."