Deri denies lobbying for No. 1 spot on Shas list

Deri not concerned about which spot he will be given; Shas official: Haredi press exaggerated rumors of discord in party.

Shas's Arye Deri, Eli Yishai shake hands 370 (photo credit: Shas handout)
Shas's Arye Deri, Eli Yishai shake hands 370
(photo credit: Shas handout)
Shas co-leader Arye Deri said on Tuesday that he was not concerned about which spot on the party’s electoral list he will be given by the movement’s Council of Torah Sages.
Speculation and rumors have circulated in recent days that Deri was lobbying to gain the No. 1 spot on the list at the expense of leadership rival and former party chairman Interior Minister Eli Yishai.
“I didn’t return to Shas after 12 years away in order to get the No. 1 spot, or to get a ministry or to get anything else,” Deri said during an interview in the Ynet TV studio. “I came in order to serve the movement and to serve the public. I will accept whatever the Council of Torah Sages decides.”
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Deri’s return to the Shas political machine in October was bitterly opposed by Yishai. A compromise deal to bring him back to the party was agreed in which a triumvirate leadership consisting of Deri, Yishai and Construction and Housing Minister Ariel Attias was established, while Yishai stepped down, temporarily at least, as party chairman, with a final decision on who will be given permanent chairmanship of the party to be made after the election.
Shas officials involved in negotiating the deal said at the time that Yishai would be given the No. 1 spot on the electoral list in return for compromising and stepping down as chairman.
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post on Sunday, a Shas official close to the triumvirate leadership said that members of the haredi press had exaggerated rumors of discord regarding who would head the party list during the past few days, and said that no changes had been made to the joint-leadership deal established back in October.
Shas does not hold a primary election, and the order of candidates on the party list is chosen by the party’s Council of Torah Sages, which is headed by Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, along with three other senior Shas rabbis.
The council is expected to make its final decision on the order of candidates on the party list this Thursday.