Former leader Arye Deri likely to return to Shas

Cracks appear in UTJ political front as leadership struggle between bitter rivals Eli Yishai and Arye Deri continues.

Ariel Attias and Arye Deri 370 (photo credit: Oren Nahshon/Flash90)
Ariel Attias and Arye Deri 370
(photo credit: Oren Nahshon/Flash90)
"The ongoing leadership struggle in the Shas party will likely conclude by the end of the week, with party sources stating that the return of former leader Arye Deri to the party is now probable. Some also expressed optimism that an accord between current party chairman Eli Yishai and former leader Arye Deri is possible.
“If I were to guess an outcome it would be for unity,” a Shas source close to Rabbi Ovadia Yosef’s family circle told The Jerusalem Post.“Arye will return to the party but Eli’s position and standing will not be significantly harmed.”
A Shas party official close to Yishai hinted that this was a likely outcome. The source close to Rabbi Ovadia Yosef said that the fine details of the possible deal still need to be agreed on, and that several variations of power sharing are on the table. It is possible that Yishai will be guaranteed the most senior ministerial position should Shas be part of the next governing coalition, while Deri will become party chairman once again.
The source said that those closest to Yosef were most concerned with bringing about unity within the party as the current battle is harming the movement.
Separately, tensions within the non-hassidic “Lithuanian” haredi world mounted on Monday, following a decision within the Degel Hatorah political faction not to include on its party list of Knesset candidates a politician associated with a rival to the current spiritual leader of the Lithuanian world, Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman.
According to reports in the haredi media, Menahem Carmel, who was placed third on Degel Hatorah’s list in 2009, will not be included at all in the coming election.
Degel Hatorah is the nonhassidic faction of the Ashkenazi haredi party United Torah Judaism.
A source within Degel Hatorah would not confirm the report, saying only that the issue was “irrelevant,” since in any case Carmel could only be placed seventh on the UTJ list, with most polls showing the party picking up just five Knesset seats.
Carmel is a supporter of Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach, who fought and lost a succession battle for leadership of the haredi world with Shteinman following the death of previous leader Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv earlier this year.
Carmel’s refusal to fall in line with Shteinman’s camp is believed to be the main reason why he has now been removed from Degel HaTorah’s list.
On Monday, sources within Auerbach’s camp said that they are now seriously considering forming a new political party to run in the general election.
A Degel Hatorah official claimed that the pronouncements are simply threats designed to scare the faction into admitting Carmel.
However, MK Yisrael Eichler, a member of United Torah Judaism’s hassidic faction Agudat Yisrael, said on Sunday that a new haredi party could cost UTJ a Knesset seat in the election even if it does not itself pass the electoral threshold of three mandates.