Eli Yishai
Eli YishaiHezki Baruch

Yahad party chairman and former chief of the Shas party Eli Yishai said Interior Minister Aryeh Deri was responsible for the failure to reach an agreement for a joint run with the Jewish Home in this year’s Knesset election.

Last Thursday night, with just minutes left to register candidates for the Knesset, Yishai submitted the Yahad party slate to the elections committee, despite urging by the Jewish Home-National Union list that Yishai accept the ninth spot on a joint ticket.

The Yahad party, which Yishai founded in 2014 after he bolted from Shas, ran on a joint list with Otzma Yehudit in 2015, narrowly missing the 3.25% electoral threshold.

With most polls showing Yahad polling at or below 1% in an independent run, Yishai had pursued possible joint runs with both Shas and the Jewish Home-National Union.

While talks with Shas collapsed, a deal was struck with the Jewish Home and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for a joint ticket with the Jewish Home. In exchange for not running independently, Yishai was guaranteed a ministry in the next government, and would be placed on the ninth spot of the Jewish Home-National Union-Otzma Yehudit list.

At the last minute, however, Yishai filed for a separate run, ostensibly over the refusal of Yahad’s spiritual leader, Rabbi Meir Mazuz, to publicly endorse the Jewish Home list.

In an interview Sunday with Channel 12, however, Yishai says the deal for the joint run collapsed when Interior Minister Aryeh Deri (Shas) vetoed Netanyahu’s plan to appoint Yishai as minister in the next government.

“Netanyahu called me, on Wednesday I think it was, and said that Deri had put a veto on the deal and my appointment as a minister in the next government in [exchange for] an alliance with the Jewish Home. Bibi understood that the situation was very complicated. We continued negotiating, but saw that it wasn’t relevant, the ninth spot [on the Jewish Home list], and that we need to go on our own, because we’re worth a lot more.”

“I’m starting to pity him,” Yishai said of Deri. “How much can a person run after [someone else]?”

“He’s brought Shas down to around the electoral threshold as a result of his behavior. He is the one who is in a serious situation. I feel bad for him, what with his legal situation and the indictment,” Yishai continued, referring to the police recommendation that charges be filed against the Interior Minister. “Shas is in danger because of him, so we pity him.”

Despite Yahad receiving one percent or less in the recent polls, Yishai said he is confident the party will clear the 3.25% threshold and enter the next Knesset.

“We’re also looking at internal polls we’ve done. We’re like so many of the parties I remember who were at zero point something, or a bit more, and then afterwards got five to six seats.”