Shas insiders: Deri may yet return (JERUSALEM POST) By JEREMY SHARON 05/02/12)
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Despite recent reports, Shas insiders are hopeful that former party
leader Arye Deri will return to the party for the next general
election and not form a separate one.
Channel 2 reported on Monday that, according to associates of Deri,
Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef offered Deri the third spot
on the Shas electoral list after current party chairman and Interior
Minister Eli Yishai and Construction and Housing Minister Ariel
According to senior Shas figures, Deri refused and demanded the top
spot and the senior ministerial position.
Were Deri to establish his own party, Yosef would come out against
him publicly, the sources were quoted as saying.
Sources close to Deri are claiming that since one of the main issues
in the next election will be that of religion and state at a time of
religious and secular tensions, Deri could be a popular moderating
figure at the head of a party to bridge these divides, an option he
prefers to playing second fiddle to Yishai.
According to former Shas spokesman Itzik Sudri, however, the
likelihood of Deri splitting off and forming a separate haredi
Sephardi party is slim.
“We need to consolidate our power, not see it dispersed,” Sudri told
The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday. “That is what Rabbi Ovadia is working
toward, but at the moment, before elections have been announced,
everything being said is merely speculation.”
He added that although many see a Deri return to Shas alongside
Yishai as an unobtainable dream, the possibility of such an outcome
“Deri is a first-rate leader, and it would be a shame to waste his
talents. During this difficult time for the haredi community, it
would be good to see him back in a leadership position,” Sudri said.
On Monday, Yishai called on Deri to return to Shas during a meeting
of the Knesset faction, telling the press that he belonged with Shas.
Asked what the likely outcome would be, Yishai said simply that it
was Yosef and the party’s Council of Torah Sages who made the
“It´s true, we always do what the rabbi says,” Yishai said when
challenged that this was his stock answer for difficult questions.
Deri served 22 months of a three-year jail term from 2000-2002 for
accepting $155,000 in bribes during his tenure as Interior Ministry
director-general and then as interior minister.
Renegade Shas MK Haim Amsalem told Army Radio on Monday that in his
opinion it was extremely unlikely that Deri would form his own party,
and noises being made about such an eventuality were merely a way of
“Rabbi Ovadia promised Deri that he would return to lead the party
when his period of exclusion from politics was over,” Amsalem said.
“Everyone knows the game here, and everyone knows that Deri is not
going to establish his own party. He’s done everything not to anger
Rabbi Ovadia or Shas so that they’ll call him back for what was
promised to him.”
He speculated that “if the polls ahead of an election show that Shas
will not pick up the right amount of seats, and everyone runs to
Rabbi Ovadia and says, ‘Only Arye can save us,’ in a situation like
this it will be easier for Deri to return.”
Lahav Harkov contributed to this report. (© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem
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