Eli Yishai
Eli YishaiHadas Parush/Flashh 90

Rabbis affiliated with the Shas party lambasted former Shas leader Eli Yishai after he accused current Shas head Aryeh Deri of lying to the late Chief Sephardic Rabbi and Shas spiritual leader Ovadia Yosef.

Yishai had told 101.5 FM earlier this week that Deri had lied "not just once" to the late Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, and accused Deri of "turning Shas into a dictatorship".

Shas spiritual head Rabbi Shalom Cohen responded by asking "how could someone every tell lies to the holy Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef?" Rabbi Shimon Badani, a member of the Shas Council of Rabbis and Torah Scholars, called Yishai's remarks "wickedness and defamation stemming from ingratitude."

Rabbi Moshe Maya, who served as a Shas MK in the past, accused Yishai of stabbing Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef in the back.

Eli Yishai took over Shas after Aryeh Deri was convicted of bribery charges in 1999 but was deposed by Deri after he returned to the party in 2014.

In 2015, Yishai started the Yahad party and 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.

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 two weeks ago 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."

Despite their rivalry, 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.