Veteran Shas MK: It's Too Bad that Eli Yishai Left

MK Nissim Ze’ev expresses regret that Eli Yishi left Shas but says, "You cannot split Shas. Yishai will turn to other audiences."

Benny Toker ,

MKs Nissim Ze'ev and Eli Yishai
MKs Nissim Ze'ev and Eli Yishai
Miriam Alster/Flash 90

MK Nissim Ze’ev, one of the founders and veteran members of the Shas party, spoke to Arutz Sheva on Tuesday and expressed     his regret over the decision of MK Eli Yishai to leave Shas and form a new party, Yachad.

“I'm sorry that Eli left, he was an assistant in my office when I was deputy mayor of Jerusalem, he then climbed up the ladder and became an assistant to Aryeh Deri, and eventually headed the party,” recalled Ze’ev, who said that he met with Yishai several times but was unable to prevent him from leaving Shas.

“I understood his pain, the difficult emotions and feelings, there is a crisis of confidence and he cannot work with party chairman Deri. Sometimes when a couple are in a murky relationship and they separate, it is better for both sides,” said Ze’ev.

He estimated that Yishai’s voters would not necessarily be from among the same people who vote for Shas and that Yishai would probably turn to the religious Zionist voters.

"Shas cannot be split, this is a party of rabbis and of the sages of Israel. Eli Yishai decided to go for other audiences and he may pass the threshold,” said Ze’ev, adding, “I think he will receive the backing of other rabbis, possibly those of the National Union. We parted ways and there is no reason for us to fight with one another.”

Ze’ev’s comments come hours after a new poll on Tuesday showed that Yishai’s Yachad party and Shas stand even at four seats apiece. Shas currently has 11 seats in the 120-seat Knesset.

A senior Shas source later told Arutz Sheva that he earnestly hopes the poll results will not be indicative of the actual election results.

"At this pace we are liable to disappear from the political map," said the source, saying it likely was a mistake to press Yishai out of the party. Yishai's split came after Deri gave him steep demands for being able to stay, such as needing permission to hold interviews, with Yishai demanding some actual authority and influence.

The source added, "I hope for Aryeh Deri that he will succeed in leveraging the social campaign and the new image he is trying to give the movement. That's okay, that's right and it should be like this, the question is whether it all won't be for nothing due to Eli Yishai's running."