Deri says almost impossible for Shas to sit with Yesh Atid in next government

Shas chairman says political reality would likely rule out a coalition involving Shas and Yesh Atid.

Aryeh Deri
Shas chairman Arye Deri has said that there is no possibility that he would sit in a coalition together with Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid in light of what are likely to be Shas’s demands in coalition negotiations.
The statement would likely create severe difficulties for the formation of a center- left government after next month’s election, since polls show it would be all but impossible for the centrist and leftwing parties to form a coalition without the haredi parties Shas and United Torah Judaism.
Deri has, however, said as recently as January 20 that he would be willing to sit in a government with Lapid, saying in an interview with Ynet, “I have no problem personally with Yair Lapid. We made up a few months ago and I would be willing to sit with him in government. As opposed to him, I don’t rule out anyone.”
Speaking to Channel 2 on Monday, he said that he was barely in touch with Lapid but acknowledged that his previous comments.
Despite this, he said the political reality would likely rule out a coalition involving Shas and Yesh Atid.
“If Lapid says he’s willing to sit with the haredim but without amending anything, and only if they [the haredim] accept my way, then you can understand on your own that there’s no situation in which we can sit together,” Deri said.
The Shas chairman is thought to be wary of declaring outright before the general election that he will support a Likud-led center-right coalition, out of a concern not to limit his party’s leverage and asking-price in subsequent coalition negotiations.
Such a stance has costs however, since the haredi community and religiously traditional Sephardi community that Shas is focusing on in the campaign is largely inclined toward a center-right stance on diplomatic and security issues.
A Yesh Atid official said in response that the party “did not deal in political boycotts but would also not debate the composition of theoretical coalition governments before the election.
The source added that the party was not opposed to sitting with the haredi factions as long as the measures passed in the previous Knesset, such as the law for haredi conscription, yeshiva budget cuts and similar such issues are not repealed.
Deri also answered questions about his supposed resignation from political life at the end of December following the airing of a video in which the late Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef said that Deri did not listen to his instructions and was “an evil man.”
Just 13 days after his resignation as an MK, Deri announced that he was returning to political life following the demands of the Shas Council of Torah Sages, a four-man panel comprised of senior Sephardi haredi rabbis who nominally have ultimate authority within the movement.
Deri argued in his Channel 2 interview that no serious politician would resign his seat and then expect to have it empty when he returned. He implied that Shas’s subsequent rise in opinion polls following his return proved the authenticity of his original desire to leave politics.
“If someone tells you there is some kind of genius, or [film] director who thought of everything, that he directs and produces and controls all these developments, then they’re selling you spin – don’t believe them,” said Deri.
“Only authentic and true steps prove themselves,” he said.