Eli Yishai, Rabbi Meir Mazuz
Eli Yishai, Rabbi Meir MazuzYaakov Naumi/Flash 90

Rabbi Yaakov Cohen, who is the son of Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Shalom Cohen, met with Yahad spiritual head Rabbi Meir Mazuz and offered to merge the Shas and Yahad parties, the Kikar Hashabbat news site reported.

The report also said that Rabbi Mazuz didn't rule out the proposal, telling Cohen that he would give him an answer later and suggested that he arrange a meeting with Yahad head Eli Yishai.

According to Kikar Hashabbat, a source in Rabbi Shalom Cohen's inner circle confirmed the report, telling the newspaper that "Rabbi Yaakov Cohen suggested in his meeting with Rabbi Mazuz that he unite the ranks and return to the Shas movement, which is the natural home of the Sephardi public".

Yahad is headed by former Shas leader Eli Yishai, who split off from Shas after he was deposed by current head Aryeh Deri. 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.

Despite the failure, Eli Yishai announced on Sunday that he will run again in the next Knesset elections, and announced a party membership drive, promising that "Yahad will be a part of the government."

The summit between Rabbi Mazuz and the son of Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Shalom Cohen suggests that the two sides are attempting to reconcile. Last week, Rabbi Shalom Cohen and Rabbi Mazuz met in Petah Tikva for the first time since the 2015 elections caused a deep divide between the Sephardi haredi leaders.

Rabbi Shalom Cohen has been at odds with Rabbi Meir Mazuz ever since Rabbi Mazuz became the first Sephardi haredi leader to back Yahad, infuriating Rabbi Cohen, who viewed his support as a betrayal.

Tensions increased after Rabbi Cohen made disparaging remarks about the yeshiva headed by Rabbi Meir Mazuz, following Yishai's departure from Shas.

In response, Mazuz accused Cohen of being disconnected from Shas voters. “Rabbi Shalom Cohen, he should be well, is a great Torah scholar, a righteous man, and a great intellectual, but he does not come down to the people and, therefore, he does not understand the common people,” Mazuz said while speaking at his Kisei Rachamim Yeshiva.

Despite the ugly history, reports surfaced in June that Shas had quietly been talking with Eli Yishai, inquiring whether Yishai would agree to return to Shas should Aryeh Deri be indicted by police. Police are investigating Deri for money laundering, breach of trust, theft by a public servant, false registration, and tax offenses.