Last Ditch Attempt to Keep Yishai in Shas Fails

Rabbis met as Yishai is poised to declare his new party; MK Chetboun after leaving Jewish Home says joining Yishai 'has been raised.'

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Eli Yishai
Eli Yishai
Flash 90

Rabbis close to hareidi Shas party chairperson Aryeh Deri and former chairperson Eli Yishai met on Monday morning in a last gasp attempt to prevent a split in the party, as Yishai is poised to break off and form his own party. According to reports, however, the meeting was unsuccessful and Yishai is now definitely leaving to form his own party.

In fact, sources close to Yishai have already registered the new party under the name "Maran," or if that isn't accepted, "Yahad," although an official statement signifying his split from Shas has yet to be made.

The rabbis who took part in the last minute meeting on Monday included Yishai's rabbi Rabbi Meir Mazuz, who has warned he will leave Shas with Yishai; and on the other side Rabbi Shimon Ba'adani of the Shas Council of Torah Sages.

Yishai is anticipated to officially announce his new party on Monday after the rabbinical meeting failed. His party is expected to get five seats according to polls leaving Shas with just four, and if Tekuma faction head Uri Ariel breaks off from Jewish Home for a joint run being discussed between the two, polls show they can expect at least seven mandates.

MK Yoni Chetboun resigned from Jewish Home on Sunday, and is likely to join Yishai's new party once it is formed. In announcing his resignation, he said he wanted to be in a party that "preserves the Jewish identity and the values of the Torah in the country." 

Speaking to Galei Yisrael radio on Monday, Chetboun said "Jewish Home is embarking on a wide process which in effect is changing it into a different party," likely a reference on the party's controversial decision to more actively court the secular and Druze vote in particular.

"I see the mosaic of candidates and that's welcome," noted Chetboun. "But I feel slowly less attached to this home and I see in looking forward - I see the potential of new forces joining (Jewish Home)." 

When asked about the possibility of joining Yishai's new party, Chetboun remarked: "Eli Yishai has not announced a concrete political process, but that possibility certainly is being weighed completely. Eli Yishai and I have been in good contact for several months, and of course that topic also was raised."

"There are lots of rabbis and also - you'll be surprised - lots of opinions, and for them too it was important to see that we advance some sort of new process," said Chetboun.

Regarding rabbis, Yishai is considered close to Rabbi Tzvi Tau, dean of the religious Zionist Har Hamor Yeshiva, who has frequently criticized Jewish Home for its stances in the past, and even called on his students to vote for Shas when it was led by Yishai over ideological differences with Jewish Home.