MK Aryeh Deri
MK Aryeh Deri Flash 90

MK Aryeh Deri was officially named as the leader of the Shas party by the Council of the Torah Sages on Thursday evening, replacing Eli Yishai who chaired the party over the last 13 years.

Earlier reports indicated that Shas was ending its three-way power-sharing agreement between Yishai, Deri and Ariel Atias and that Rabbi Ovadia Yosef would appoint Deri as the party’s leader.

Both Deri and Yishai have previously served as head of Shas. The two have reportedly clashed as joint leaders, leading to tension in the entire party as MKs split between "the Deri camp” and “the Yishai camp”.

Atias will serve as chairman of the party’s Knesset faction while Yishai was offered to head the Shas network of schools.

At a press conference held in Rabbi Ovadia Yosef’s synagogue at the Har Nof neighborhood of Jerusalem on Thursday evening, the secretary of the Council of Torah Sages said that Yishai requested a period of ten days to decide whether he will accept the role offered to him.

Deri responded after the official announcement and said that "the Council of Sages made a clear decision. I want to thank MK Eli Yishai, who for a long time, in a stormy sea and during difficult periods, navigated the ship with great skill."

"We have many tasks ahead of us,” added Deri. “We have difficult tasks. We have the elections in the local authorities and a lot of issues like the state budget, decrees and laws that change the status quo on issues of Judaism. It’s true that the Council of Torah Sages decided that I will be the leader of the band, but I promise that all the recent rumors are null and void. I will make every effort so that love and brotherhood will prevail.”