Aryeh Deri
Aryeh Deri Israel news photo: Flash 90

Aryeh Deri, one of the three leaders of the Shas party, accused Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Saturday of preferring a coalition with parties from the left rather than with Shas.

"Why is Netanyahu not prepared to declare that Shas is his natural coalition partner?" Deri said in an interview on Channel 2's "Meet the Press". "For the past two-three months I have been shouting from every stage that whoever votes Shas will get us and Netanyahu as Prime Minister. And yet I hear the Likud leaders, including Netanyahu itself, claiming that there is a hareidi party negotiating with the left. We know all these spins."

Deri was referring to Netanyahu's claims this week that left wing and hareidi parties are plotting to bring about his downfall, and that only a strong Likud Beytenu could prevent this from happening.

Deri later dismissed the comments on his Facebook page, saying that the reports his party was in talks with the left were "a bad joke".

In Saturday's interview, Deri urged Netanyahu, "Call me, I will come to your home and we can decide on Shas entering the government. The Likud voters should know that Netanyahu prefers a government with the center-left instead of his natural partners. I think that the day after the election Netanyahu will find that we are his natural partner."

Deri also addressed the Shas campaign ad which depicted Russian immigrants as non-Jews who did not convert according to Jewish halakha.

The campaign caused an uproar and after a complaint was filed with the Central Elections Committee, Shas agreed to pull it from the airwaves for the sake of peace. Deri, however, refused to apologize for the ad.

"We focused on Yisrael Beytenu," he said. "It has a clear agenda that it wants to promote - civil marriages. It really worries me that no one is focusing on the message [of the ad]. This is a form of campaigning that demonstrates the absurdity of converting a person to Judaism by fax. This is what they want to introduce here. "

He added, "Yes, it's hard to see but that's the meaning of conversion by fax."

Deri said that he would not apologize for the ad, which he said "was not intended to hurt any sector. What can we do about that the fact that among the immigrants from Russia there are many non-Jews? We have to deal with it and not by civil marriage."

The Likud Beytenu responded to Deri's remarks on Saturday night, saying, "The public should remember Deri's joining the left during the Oslo Accords, and therefore those who vote Shas may find the party in a coalition with the left."

Responding to Shas' ad, the Likud Beytenu said, "It is strange that after he apologized for the racist accusations against immigrants from the Former Soviet Union, Deri continues to back his party's racist and abusive ad."