Deri: No plans for a Joint Haredi List

Shas head Aryeh Deri dismisses claims Shas will run on joint list with Ashkenazi-haredi UTJ in order to pass electoral threshold.

Tzvi Lev,

Haredi unity? Ministers Litzman and Deri
Haredi unity? Ministers Litzman and Deri

Shas Chairman Aryeh Deri dismissed rumors that the Shas party will merge with the Lithuanian-haredi United Torah Judaism party in order to ensure that it passes the electoral threshold.

In an interview with the haredi Haderech magazine, Deri said that rumors that Shas would unite with UTJ had followed the faction ever since its founding in 1984. "This is not a new issue. Since I've been in politics this issue has come up over and over again," said Deri.

"Before Shas was established, if the Sephardic public was recognized [by Ashkenazi haredim] and given the respect it deserved than Shas would not have been established. Only after Shas became a fait accompli did the issue of union between the parties arise, but over the years the great rabbis of Israel decided not to unite. "

Deri did not rule out joining a coalition run by Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid in the next elections, despite the hostility between Lapid and the haredi community. "It's hard for me to see a situation in which Lapid will form a government with a bloc of 61 members, but of course we do not reject anyone," said Deri.

Recent polls have shown that Shas is in dire straits, with a poll earlier this month showing that Shas would not pass the 3.25% electoral threshold if elections were held today.

Shas' decline from the 17 seats it won in 1999 has been attributed to several factors, including the death of party founder and Sephardic icon Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef and the ongoing police investigations of party leader Aryeh Deri and his wife for alleged money laundering, fraud, breach of trust, theft, fraudulent registration, numerous tax offenses, and corruption.

As a way to reverse Shas' dwindling electoral fortunes, several members of both the Shas and UTJ parties have floated an idea that the two factions would run together in the next elections in order to ensure that Shas makes it into the Knesset.

Modeled after the Joint List party, which unified the three Arab parties into a single list ahead of the 2015 election, proponents say that a united haredi party would maximize the community’s Knesset representation, and ease disputes over the allocation of seats.