Shas chairman MK Aryeh Deri reiterated on Thursday that his party would not automatically vote in favor of any peace agreement signed between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA), and stressed that he would oppose any agreement that harms the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.
Speaking to the hareidi-religious radio station Kol Barama, Deri said that the Shas Council of Torah Sages will determine how the party would vote in case an agreement is reached.
Deri said that it was his impression that the talks are seriously advancing towards an agreement. He also took the opportunity to take a shot at the Jewish Home party and its leader, Naftali Bennett.
"I meet a lot with Bennett," he said, adding, "The Land of Israel does not belong to Bennett or to Uri Ariel or to anybody else. The Land of Israel is important to us and we will not endanger the lives of the residents of Judea and Samaria because these or other considerations.”
He stressed that the Council of Torah Sages will stay true to the path of the late Rabbi Ovadia Yosef zts”l when deciding how to vote on a potential peace agreement. Deri went on to say that the uprooting of Gush Katif took place partially because of the Jewish Home party, which was then called the National Religious Party (NRP).
"They stayed in the government until the Disengagement happened and then left,” he charged. “Ultimately, they enabled the Disengagement.”
Deri said that Rabbi Ovadia Yosef’s historical position was that “sometimes we also have to do things that are painful such as ceding parts of the Land of Israel...But there is also the matter of the sanctity of a human being. The moment after the Disengagement we received rocket attacks and are still getting them to this day. Hamas rose to power and now we remain silent.”
He added, "Who is to say that [PA Chairman] Abbas will remain in power? What guarantee do we have that we will not get missiles on Jerusalem? The Jewish Home is lending a hand to these agreements but I am not. I hope we don’t have a repeat of the same scenario that we had in the Disengagement, when the Jewish Home was taken advantage of to implement the plan and other parties were used to support it.”
The comments come one week after Deri announced that his party would not give Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's government a "safety net" and would refuse to form a new coalition to enable a peace deal loaded with Israeli withdrawals.
Deri told Kol Yisrael radio that since the 2005 Disengagement from Gaza, his thinking has changed, and he now feels a commitment to Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria.
It is worth noting that Deri was part of the coalition government that instituted the 1993 Oslo Accords. In January 2013, Deri claimed he "didn't understand" what the Accords were about when he abstained in a crucial vote that enabled the agreement to be passed.
Deri recently said the "nationalist government" comprised of Likud-Beytenu and Jewish Home "abandoned Jerusalem," as all MKs from the nationalist parties other than MK Moshe Feiglin were absent from a bill requiring 80 MKs to approve any division of Jerusalem. The bill was consequently defeated.