Shas chief: We'll back Netanyahu as PM - even if he's indicted

Aryeh Deri says Shas won't back attempt to form center-left coalition, even if PM is indicted. 'We are Netanyahu's most dependable allies.'

Hezki Baruch,

Aryeh Deri
Aryeh Deri
Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

The Sephardic haredi party Shas will endorse incumbent premier Binyamin Netanyahu for an additional term as Prime Minister after the April 9th elections – even if Netanyahu is indicted on corruption charges, Shas chief and Interior Minister Aryeh Deri said Tuesday.

Speaking at a special event Tuesday marking the launch of Shas’ 2019 election campaign, Deri vowed that his party would not back any rival candidate’s attempt to form a governing coalition, and that he would support Netanyahu even if Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit decides to indict Netanyahu.

The Prime Minister is currently facing possible indictments in three separate investigations, known as Case 1000, Case 2000, and Case 4000. Police have recommended Netanyahu be charged in the three cases, which stem from allegations Netanyahu and his family accepted cash and expensive gifts from a businessman in exchange for favors (Case 1000), claims Netanyahu advanced a newspaper’s interests in exchange for favorable coverage (Case 2000), and allegations Netanyahu pushed regulatory changes to benefit the Bezeq telecommunications company in exchange for favorable coverage from a news outlet owned by the leading shareholder of Bezeq (Case 4000).

“We support Binyamin Netanyahu completely, and we will only endorse him for prime minister, even if he is indicted, so long as the law permits him [to serve].”

“Prime Minister Netanyahu knows that his most loyal and reliable partners are us, the members of the Shas party. We never threatened him or made coalition crises. We were more loyal partners to him than some members of the Likud. So Likud voters should understand that by voting Shas, they get two [things]: Netanyahu [as prime minister], and also the country which they love: traditional, respecting religion, and our [religious] heritage.”

Deri also expressed optimism regarding his party’s electoral prospects, despite polls showing Shas barely clearing the electoral threshold.

“I’ve heard more than a few people say that Shas is finished; it had a good run and now it can get off the stage. There are even some people who try to ‘help us’. I want to tell everyone, we don’t need any favors.”

“For thirty years now, the Sephardic community has been taking care of itself, and that will continue. I don’t want to think what would happen to our community if they wouldn’t have Shas. They would be lost, invisible.”