Aryeh Deri, who will likely lead a new party in the next Knesset, vowed in an interview Friday not to support a narrow leftist coalition.
In an interview with Haggai Segal of Makor Rishon, Deri said that his dream is of a broad coalition that will include Likud and Kadima, and he tried to assuage nationalists' fears that he might give a hand to another deal like the infamous Oslo accords, which led to a five-year wave of mass murder on Israel's streets, followed by the creation of a terror state in Gaza.
"I can faithfully promise you that there is no way I will lend my hand to a narrow coalition led by the Left," he said. "This is the first time I have said this in public, but those who need to know already know.
"The big contribution that I want to give the nation of Israel is the establishment of a unity government that will create an atmosphere of cooperation among all of us. I do not believe in a narrow government in any form, not one led by the Right and definitely not one led by the Left."
Deri added that a unity government is also in the interest of religious people because it will lower tensions between religious and secular Jews - a tension that he thinks hurts the religious more.
Narrow governments are also worse for the Land of Israel, he explained. "Take the last two years. There is a narrow right-wing government with religious and hareidi-religious members, a seemingly ideal government, but we see the results: two years of a very harsh freeze (on construction for Jews), which is a very grave mistake for which we will pay a heavy price. The Prime Minister also came out in favor of two states for two nations. So what have we gained from the whole story?"
Deri was Interior Minister in the government formed by Labor's Yitzchak Rabin in 1992. He has been blamed by nationalists, since then, for Shas' decision to vote in favor of the Oslo Accords. On the day in which the cabinet was to vote on the Oslo agreement, Deri told Segal, he came to the Shas faction meeting and voiced "single-minded opposition" to the accords.
"I said that I do not understand why we have to revive the PLO after Arafat was already on the floor in terms of his world status. I said that there are numerous security problems with the deal... Rabin and his aides were very stressed by what I said."
Then, Deri recounted, the Government Secretariat told him that Shas mentor Rav Ovadia Yosef wanted to talk to him. When Deri told him that then-IDF Chief of Staff Ehud Barak told him that the agreement was "full of holes," Rav Ovadia answered that Rabin, too, is a former Chief of Staff.
"In the end the Rav decided that we would abstain, and I wholeheartedly accepted his decision."
IMRA's Dr. Aaron Lerner noted that Deri kept his options open on dividing Jerusalem. IMRA brings the following excerpt from the interview:
Haggai Segal: In your election platform you will have to reveal if you are for or against dividing Jerusalem
Aryeh Deri: I do not have a solution for everything. When we reach it we will deal with it.
Segal: So I will ask you a different way: does the religious law decision of Rabbi Ovadia [Yosef] apply also to Jerusalem?
Deri: Everything has to be measured first of all from a security standpoint. After what happened in the Disengagement, I fear that if we transfer Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem we will start getting hit by rockets in Har Nof and Ben Gurion.
Segal: I notice that you don’t tell me that Jerusalem is an absolute red line.
Deri: From what standpoint. In terms of holiness?
Chagai Segal: Yes.
Deri: The sages of Israel will decide. This is too big a matter for me to make a decision on.
A Voice of Israel poll last week determined that a party led by Aryeh Deri would receive seven Knesset seats if elections were held today.
Deri's interview for Makor RIshon
follows a nationalist campaign to warn voters regarding his alleged defeatist tendencies. In 2008, Deri considered running for mayor of Jerusalem. At the time, Arutz Sheva
quoted Baruch Marzel of the Jewish Front movement as warning, "Deri has not repented
. He continues to mingle with the same clique, continues to declare left-wing opinions, and even after Gush Katif, still says that there is no choice and we must give up territories in the Land of Israel."
Steven Bayme of the American Jewish Committee wrote: "Deri was a key player
in the Oslo Accords signed with the Palestinians."