Deri 'Determined' to Resign as Shas Chairman

After his resignation was rejected by Shas rabbis, MK Aryeh Deri tells party members he is determined to step down.

Yoni Kempinski and Ben Ariel ,

MK Aryeh Deri
MK Aryeh Deri
Flash 90

Shas chairman MK Aryeh Deri said on Monday night that he is determined to resign from his position, despite the fact that the party’s Council of Torah Sages had earlier rejected his request to resign as the party's leader.

In a letter to party activists, Deri said his resignation, though a painful move, was required in order to prevent further damage to the name and reputation of Shas’s late spiritual leader, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef ztz”l.

"My dear brothers, Knesset members and activists across the country, I ask of you - do not let your spirits fall," wrote Deri in his letter, adding, “You must understand, after the contempt of the Torah and the desecration of G-d’s name which occurred yesterday I am not prepared for anymore damage to the great legacy of Maran ztz”l.”

Deri added that while the resignation was not an easy move, he is doing it wholeheartedly and with a clean conscience.

"The Shas movement founded by Maran ztz”l is stronger than this or that event and stronger than any private individual. I am sure that Shas will continue in full force and that from heaven, Maran is accompanying all its actions. Maran is alive and well," he wrote.

Deri had requested to resign as Shas leader after a recording leaked of Rabbi Yosef making a number of severe remarks against Deri. 

Political analysts claimed, however, that this is a mere tactic for Deri to rouse the support of the Council of Torah Sages. 

In the recordings, which were leaked Sunday night on Channel 2 News, Rabbi Yosef is seen in private meetings condemning Deri for his corruption that had him jailed in 1999 and explaining he didn't want to reappoint him as head of Shas - and even going as far as to refer to him as "evil."

But on Monday, Yosef's children went to the spiritual leader's grave to request forgiveness for "disgracing his honor," in an apparent show of support for Deri despite the condemnation R' Yosef expressed in the footage. 

The footage leaked after Shas breakaway party Ha'am Itanu leader Eli Yishai had threatened to leak never-before-seen footage of Rabbi Yosef of the leader's "true opinions" over Deri. 

The Shas Council of Torah Sages had visited Deri’s home on Monday evening to personally deliver the message that they had rejected his resignation, but Deri was not at home when they arrived.