Shas, Deri trade barbs over signs

Weekend poll finds party’s former leader could tip balance between right and left blocs in next election.

Arye Deri 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Arye Deri 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Shas activists loyal to former Shas leader Arye Deri and current chairman Eli Yishai sparred over the weekend over who put up what appeared to be signs promoting Deri’s return to the helm of the Sephardi party.
The signs, which were plastered throughout haredi neighborhoods in Jerusalem and Bnei Brak, bore the slogan, “The majority decides, not the rabbi decides,” using words that sound similar in Hebrew.
The signs were signed “Deri supporters in Shas.”
Yishai loyalists said the signs proved that Deri was being disrespectful to Shas mentor Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, who will decide who will head the party in the next election. Yosef had promised when Deri was forced to step down from Shas’s leadership that the “deposit” he left with Yishai would be returned, but there are no signs that Yosef will keep the promise.
Activists close to Deri said they had traced the signs to a printer in Jerusalem’s Mea She’arim neighborhood connected to Yishai. They accused Yishai of dirty tricks in efforts to harm Deri’s reputation and relationship with Yosef.
Deri had his usual Shabbat afternoon meal with Yosef at the rabbi’s home in the Har Nof neighborhood. They reportedly did not discuss Deri’s announcement last week that he intends to run for the next Knesset.
Yishai’s associates reported that Yosef was angry at Deri for the announcement and for undermining Yishai.
A Dahaf Institute poll published over the weekend in Yediot Aharonot found that Deri could hold the balance of power between the Right and Left blocs after the next election.
The poll found that if Deri did not run, the Right bloc would win 63 Knesset seats and the Left 57. If Deri ran at the helm of Shas, the Right would win 65 and the Left 55. But if Deri formed his own party that joined the Left bloc, he would help the bloc win 63 seats compared to the Right’s 57.