'Deri to announce new party next week'

Shas head says former party leader Arye Deri won't go against wishes of Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef.

Arye Deri_521 (photo credit: Reuters)
Arye Deri_521
(photo credit: Reuters)
Former Shas leader Arye Deri will announce next week that he is forming a new political faction to contest the upcoming elections, the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) Mishpacha newspaper reported on Thursday.
According to the report, Deri will stage a press conference next week to announce his decision to form a party aimed at bridging the divide between different sectors of Israeli society, but will nevertheless call on haredi voters to vote for haredi parties.
The publication of the Mishpacha story comes following Shas chairman Eli Yishai’s statements to the contrary on Thursday morning on the Israel Broadcasting Authority’s (IBA) Reshet Bet radio station, that he did not believe Deri would form a new political faction.
“It’s hard for me to believe that he will form a new party,” Yishai said. “He always said he’d never go against the wishes of Rabbi Ovadiah [Yosef, Shas’ spiritual leader]. He loves and respects Rabbi Ovadiah, and I just don’t think he would do this.”
Asked whether Yosef had confirmed that Yishai would lead Shas into the coming elections as party chairman, he replied that this was indeed the case.
However, asked why Yosef does not make a public statement on the matter, Yishai said elusively that the only statement the rabbi would issue is one saying “vote for Shas.”
Former Shas spokesman Itzik Sudri, who has close personal and family ties to Yosef, said that in spite of the conflicting reports and messages, nothing has yet been decided and that the Shas Council of Torah Sages headed by Yosef has not discussed or ruled on the matter.
“Everything is still open, as far as I’m aware no formal decision has been made on who will lead Shas,” Sudri said on Thursday. “But I still think that there is more likelihood that there will be some kind of unification rather than a fragmentation of political forces.”
According to a Dachaf Institute poll published this week for the Knesset Channel, if elections were held tomorrow, an independent party led by Deri would garner just two seats, while Shas would take eight.
Deri served 22 months of a three-year jail term from 2000-2002 for accepting $155,000 in bribes during his tenure as director-general of the Interior Ministry and then as interior minister.
During Yishai’s interview with Reshet Bet, Yishai also took the opportunity to accuse Yair Lapid of attempting to deceive the public into believing that he does not hate haredim.
“He’s behaving very nicely, as if he’s Little Red Riding Hood,” Yishai commented.
“But it’s incumbent on Shas voters and anyone who cares about Jewish values that he doesn’t succeed with his media spin.”