Daily Israel Report

Deri: I Didn't Understand Oslo When I Abstained in Crucial Vote

Shas head Aryeh Deri attributed Shas' not voting against the Oslo Accords to a request by Yitzchak Rabin, and his poor language skills
By David Lev
First Publish: 1/14/2013, 6:33 PM

Aryeh Deri
Aryeh Deri
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Despite the rivalry between the parties, Shas and Bayit Yehudi need to work together to prevent Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu from setting up a left-center coalition, as he is apparently planning, said Aryeh Deri, one of the three heads of the Sephardic Hareidi party. Speaking to Arutz Sheva, Deri said that unlike in the past, Shas is interested only in working with Netanyahu, but that unlike in the past, Netanyahu was less interested in working with Shas, an attitude that affects other rightwing parties as well.

In recent days, the media has reported that Shas was in secret talks with Tzippy Livni and Yair Lapid regarding joining a center-left coalition, but Deri vehemently denied the rumors. “When we are asked by the President for whom we recommend to form a government, it will only be Netanyahu.

Despite the perception of many people, Deri stressed that Shas had never supported the Oslo Accords. “These are lies that keep getting repeated. According to the rumors, I am not only a supporter of Oslo, I was one of the authors of the accord.”

According to Deri, he had no idea what the accord was about when he voted on it, as a member of Yitzchak Rabin's government in 1993. “They showed me the document two hours before the government vote on approving it, and it was in English, which I don't read, so I had to ask someone to translate it,” Deri said. “In the first vote on it we abstained, after Rabin asked Rabbi Ovadia Yosef that we do so. He said it was better not to get involved in the issue.” Since then, however, Shas has opposed every subsequent deal with the PA, Deri said.

Deri added that he had supported Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria throughout his career, and that there were many commonalities between Shas and Bayit Yehudi. Both parties needed to present a united front in coalition negotiations, in order to maximize the effectiveness of the right. “This is a great opportunity for us. If all the religious parties coalesce we will achieve 30 seats. I do not rule out the likelihood that the Prime Minister will someday be a religious Jew.”