Shas leaders vow there won't be split in party

Channel 10: Party officials close to Deri say that if Yishai does not accept Deri's leadership, he will be ostracized.

Deri and Yishai at Knesset 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Deri and Yishai at Knesset 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Shas mentor Rabbi Ovadia Yosef’s dying wish to keep the party united will be honored, Shas leader Arye Deri and his predecessor, Eli Yishai, said Tuesday.
A source in Yosef’s family said that although the rabbi had not left an actual written will, he had told his sons to convey that he did not want the party to split.
“We know your will,” Deri said at Yosef’s funeral Monday night. “We are sure you are commanding us all to unite behind the Council of Torah Sages.”
Deri told Channel 2 on Tuesday that no one could fill the void Yosef had left behind, but that Yosef had asked the three-man council to succeed him in his political role. He denied any intention of showing Yishai the door.
“There is no split, and there won’t be,” Deri said. “Shas is united and will continue to be united.”
When asked about Yishai, Deri said he had heard his rival repeatedly deny reports that he intended to split the party.
Yishai said Tuesday that he would do everything possible to maintain party unity in order to honor Yosef. He criticized pundits who were looking for signs of a split.
Channel 10 reported that party officials close to Deri had said that if Yishai did not accept Deri’s leadership, he would be increasingly distanced, because he no longer had Yosef to help him.
“The party won’t disappear, but it won’t be like it was with Rabbi Ovadia,” MK Ariel Atias said. “He is not there to make things work.
But we are a party with a strong infrastructure all over the country, and that will not change.”