'Yishai was Told: If You Go, Chief Rabbi Won't'

Reports of Shas infighting as current party head Aryeh Deri reportedly pressures former head Eli Yishai to not attend Rabbi Ovadia memorial.

Arutz Sheva ,

Eli Yishai
Eli Yishai
Israel news photo: Flash 90

MK Eli Yishai, former chairman of the Shas party, was successfully pressured to stay away from a memorial ceremony for Rabbi Ovadia Yosef ztz”l, held Monday in Samaria.

Yishai was among the personages invited to the ceremony, as was Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, Israel's Chief Sephardic Rabbi, who is Rabbi Ovadia's son.

However, senior sources in Shas told Arutz Sheva that elements within the bureau of Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef placed heavy pressure in recent days on the event's organizers to prevent Yishai's participation, because Shas's current chairman, MK Aryeh Deri, sees him as a political threat.

Despite the pressure, Yishai planned to participate in the rally, until he received an additional phone cal Monday from the organizers, a few hours before the event began, in which they asked him not to come because of incessant pressure from the Chief Rabbi's bureau.

Yishai decided not to go, in the end, “in order to avoid discord and controversy,” the senior sources said. Apparently, the organizers were led to understand that if Yishai attends the rally, the chief rabbi will stay away from it.

The sources said that Deri's people are among those who surround the Chief Rabbi, and “they have taken upon themselves to sabotage Eli Yishai in every possible matter. They know he is popular in the settlements of Judea and Samaria and they wanted to humiliate him so that he would not recive the honor he deserves.”

The sources said that in fact, Rabbi Yosef wants Yishai at his side, but “the people around him apply the pressure in the spirit of the 'commander' – Aryeh Deri, who hugs [Yishai] in faction meetings but later treats him differently.”

Rabbi Yosef's bureau denies the story.