Shas Chairman Eli Yishai in Sderot
Shas Chairman Eli Yishai in Sderot Israel News Photo: (Arutz Sheva)

The Shas Sephardic religious party has announced its support for Likud party chairman and Knesset Ppposition leader MK Binyamin “Bibi” Netanyahu to become the next prime minister of Israel.

Shas chairman and Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor Eli Yishai made the announcement Tuesday morning at the kickoff of the party’s election campaign for the February election.

In his statement, which came shortly after a cross-border attack in which Hamas killed one IDF soldier and wounded three others, Yishai noted that “Israel’s deterrence has been severely damaged as a result of restraint and hesitation, which ultimately shows weakness and not strength. We must not be indifferent to this; we have seen the same script before.”

Yishai said he would recommend to President Shimon Peres that Netanyahu be tapped to form the next government, saying “a strong Shas will keep Netanyahu from repeating his mistakes of the past.”

Netanyahu has been severely criticized by Shas in the past for his programs as Finance Minister, which involved heavy cuts in the social services sector, a major focus for the party. Yishai contended that a strong Shas will be able to force Netanyahu to allocate funds for social services.