Eli Yishai
Eli YishaiYonatan Sindel/Flash 90

Former Interior Minister and ex-Shas chairman Eli Yishai will run again for the Knesset with his Yahad party, despite failing to cross the electoral threshold for the 20th Knesset in 2015.

Yishai led the Sephardic haredi Shas party after his predecessor, Aryeh Deri, was convicted of bribery and fraud in 1999, serving in various ministerial positions through 2013.

Following the election to the 19th Knesset in 2013, however, Yishai was replaced as chairman of Shas by Deri, who had served a 22-month jail term and mandatory seven-year waiting period after his prison sentence.

A year and a half later, ahead of the 2015 Knesset election, Yishai bolted from Shas, forming the Yahad party with then-Jewish Home MK Yoni Chetboun.

In 2015, Yahad ran on a joint list with the Otzma Yehudit party, led by former Kach party activists including one-time National Union MK Michael Ben-Ari and Baruch Marzel, as well as attorney Itamar Ben-Gvir.

While most polls showed Yahad crossing the 3.25% minimum electoral threshold required to enter the Knesset, the party came up short, receiving 125,158 votes, or about 2.97% of all valid ballots and about 13,000 short of the threshold.

Acknowledging his party’s failure in 2015, on Sunday, Yishai pledged he would lead Yahad again in the next election.

“Despite the fact that Yahad did not pass the minimum threshold in the last election, Yahad will run again in the next election.”

Yishai called upon supporters to join the party and pledge to back Yahad in the next election, and addressed concerns that the party may again fail to pass the 3.25% minimum threshold.

“I’ve asked myself – and I’m sure you’ve asked yourselves as well – ‘Why should I vote again for a party that couldn’t pass the minimum threshold?’ That’s a completely legitimate question.”

“Our proposed social policies, and [efforts] to protect the Jewish character of [Israel] and to protect our borders are not enough – we must also reassure voters that your votes matter, and that the Yahad movement will be a part of the next Knesset, beyond even a shadow of a doubt.”

In order to ensure Yahad’s place in the 21st Knesset, continued Yishai, the party has already begun efforts to build a base of support to guarantee it passes the 3.25% threshold.

While new elections to the Knesset may be called at any time, the current Knesset must be dissolved no later than November 2019, with new elections on or before the 5th of November.