Deri Launches Tirade Against Yishai, 'Settlers'

Shas Chairman accuses Eli Yishai of 'going against Maran,' says that money for 'settlers' against R' Ovadiah's wishes.

Hezki Baruch and Tova Dvorin ,

Aryeh Deri
Aryeh Deri
Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

Shas Chairman Aryeh Deri launched a verbal tirade against Yachad Chairman and former Shas MK Eli Yishai Saturday night, during an interview in the Channel 2 studio. 

"It was not a good week for us, because we made very great efforts, personally and all members of the Knesset and rabbis, in order to avoid this from happening," Deri said of the split. "We are a traditional party that speaks for Torah and for unity. Look other parties that are not traditional; today there is an atmosphere of connection to the public, which is sick of disputes and I have to appear and talk about the split."

"We made a very big effort, but I have to tell the truth: this is not a split," Deri continued. "We had 11 Knesset members and one retired, we get 8 seats in polls [Editor's note: in actuality, Deri is referring to one poll - this one. Other polls have indicated an even split between Deri and Yishai.] and Yishai will not pass the threshold."

"There is a split of two ways ideologies," he explained. "Shas is not built on one man, it is built on 30 years of politics."

Referring to Yishai, he said the Yachad Chairman is "a man who has personally received a position of authority and who has gained a lot of other partners whom I respect - but this is not the way of Maran [Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef, the party's former spiritual leader - ed.]."

Deri then took aim at Jewish communities in Judea-Samaria.

"Unfortunately, we've seen over the last two years what these people prefer, to increase the budget for the Settlement Division at the expense of the people of Israel and Jewish education," he fired. 

The claim is one often made by leftist politicians; municipalities in Judea and Samaria receive the same allocations as those throughout the country, but left-wing MKs regularly accuse the government of "funding settlements" at the expense of other communities whenever funds are transferred to those communities.

Deri then accused Yishai of "hurting Maran and continuing to hurt him," of beginning the dispute Deri started, and telling Yishai to "think twice about the moves you make." 

"My God, you made a big mistake, hurt the institution of Maran and will continue to hurt him. You introduced this dispute," he fired. "You hurt a traditional party, which is in the way of Maran. You hurt educational institutions. You partnered with affiliates who have their own agendas which are unimportant to Maran." 

Yishai refused to respond at length to the personal attack, commenting merely:"I trust the people of Israel knew to do the right thing on elections day." 

Both Yishai and Deri were appointed as co-chairs of the Shas party, along with MK Ariel Atias, before the last elections, but the Council of Torah Sages, then headed by the late Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef, later ruled that Deri will be Shas chairman, further fueling the conflict between the two.

The long-standing rivalry between them resurfaced after Rabbi Yosef’s death, when Yishai was reportedly advised against attending the rabbi’s memorial service, due to political pressures from Deri.

Despite this, insiders noted to Yediot Aharonot in October that a recent Knesset channel survey found the majority of the public, and the majority of Shas voters, would prefer to see MK Eli Yishai take Deri's place.

The preference may be due, at least in part, to the fact that Deri was out of politics for several long years after being jailed for corruption.

Rabbi Ovadiah's own daughter, Rebbetzin Adina Bar Shalom, has also stated her personal disdain for Deri, saying in recordings obtained by IDF Radio that she disapproves of Deri's insistence on "quarreling with everyone" and that "he is not behaving in the way my father expected him to."

Yishai has received so many death threats against him from Shas supporters that the State was forced to assign him his own security detail until further notice.