Desperate efforts to end Shas coalition crisis

Coalition chair meets Deri in attempt to end boycott over Channel 10 head's alleged racist comments, slams 'inappropriate remarks.'

Hezki Baruch ,

Aryeh Deri
Aryeh Deri
Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

Coalition chairperson MK David Biton (Likud) met on Wednesday morning with Shas chairperson and Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, in an attempt to end the sudden boycott on parliamentary activity by his party.

Shas's boycott came in protest of statements allegedly made by Channel 10’s new chairman Rami Sadan, who entered his post on Monday and was immediately the subject of a Haaretz report claiming that he slandered Mizrahi Jews and said he "hates Deri."

In a statement Biton said that "after a meeting in a good atmosphere with the Interior Minister and after an investigation of the material and the check conducted at the request of the Coalition chairperson, it is clear that the publications in the media were exaggerated and that the statements that it was claimed were said against the Interior Minister were not said."

At the same time, Biton said that "inappropriate remarks were made that did not need to be said."

Biton asked Deri to end the coalition crisis and return to voting with the government in the Knesset. Shas will hold a meeting later on Wednesday to discuss whether or not to call a halt to the boycott.

According to Haaretz, Sadan reportedly told Channel 10 directorate members in a closed meeting that "I, like you in the elite, hate the Shas movement and the thief Aryeh Deri."

"But we, as an elite, need to break through the barriers of the channel, to approach the Shas audience, 'Masuda from Sderot,'" he allegedly said, in a proverbial reference to Mizrahi Jews living in the periphery as opposed to Ashkenazi Jews in Tel Aviv.

Sadan insisted that he never made the comments and that he was framed, and the Director-General of the Communications Ministry later on Tuesday night gave him backing, concluding after an investigation that the statements were never made. However, Channel 10 CEO Golan Yochpaz earlier said that Sadan indeed made the comments in question.

Committees collapsing

The scandal has caused backlash, with Shas MKs on Wednesday morning carrying through on their boycott threats from the previous day by not attending Knesset committees.

Deri did not arrive at an Interior Committee meeting discussing measures to deal with the illegal immigrants plaguing southern Tel Aviv, and Education Committee chairperson MK Ya'akov Margi did not arrive to manage his own committee's meeting either.

Kulanu MK Eli Alalouf, chairperson of the Work, Welfare and Health Committee, for his part cancelled the first meeting of his committee in protest of Sadan's alleged statements.

Since Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Immigration Minister Ze'ev Elkin (Likud) and Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel (Jewish Home) are currently in Moscow on an official visit, the Coalition does not have a majority at the moment to pass laws without the support of Shas MKs.

As a result Biton is making desperate efforts to end the crisis and restore the functioning of the government.