Deri: There is No Sacred Covenant with the Right

During a panel discussion with fellow hareidi MKs, Aryeh Deri discusses his feud with Eli Yishai and plans for the next Knesset.

Cynthia Blank ,

Aryeh Deri, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef
Aryeh Deri, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef
Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

Shas party head Aryeh Deri joined senior United Torah Judaism MKs Yaakov Litzman and Moshe Gafni for a hareidi political panel Wednesday night to discuss a range of issues, including tensions between Deri and MK Eli Yishai, and the question of support for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.  

The panel took place during a conference of hareidi educational institution leaders, held in Kinar Hotel in Tiberias. 

Addressing, his conflict with Yishai, who left Shas to form his own party (Yachad-Ha'am Itanu) Deri noted, "the fight between me and Eli Yishai was not about the status or leadership of the movement. It was a clash of values. It was the struggle of all Orthodox Jewry to define the world of the Torah." 

Gafni backed up Deri, attacking Eli Yishai for insubordination against the Council of Torah Sages and "causing damage not only to hareidi political power, but to the future of children's education." 

"The Council of Torah Sages must guide us always," he stressed. 

The MKs also spoke about the possibility of joining the next government. 

"If there is a coalition that would be good for hareidi Judaism, we will sit even with the wicked Bennett," Gafni said, adding that, "we will do anything to achieve our interests and main goal - to maintain and help the world of Torah. 

Regarding the question of who he will endorse for prime minister, Deri stated it didn't matter. 

"It does not matter who the prime minister is - Bibi [Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu] or Buji [Labor Chairman Yitzhak Herzog]. We've seen how bad it was for the hareidi public when Netanyahu was Prime Minister, but it's important to remember that every time the Right took us for granted, it lead to bad realms." 

"This is not a sacred covenant," Deri added, noting that "it is forbidden to pre-announce a decision one way or another." 

"It's all relevant - what's good for the hareidi community, which government, and based on that we will decide which coalition to be part of." 

As to whether the the hareidi parties will join together on one list - a suggestion which has been floated since Shas's nosedive in the polls following Yishai's split - Litzman gave a cautious no, while maintaining that Shas and UTJ would provide each other with strong support. 

"It's very complex to join together all the different religious factions. The hareidi community may lose voices, because of those who fear Yair Lapid's statement that by intimidation 'we are going to take over the state'. In any case, we'll be giving Shas our full cooperation." 

"If we succeed [to join a coalition], it is quite possible, we will ask for a the finance portfolio for Rabbi Deri."