Rabbi Haim Amsalem
Rabbi Haim AmsalemHezki Baruch

The Shas political party has experienced several blows in recent years, including the death of spiritual leader and former Chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. With current party chairman Aryeh Deri under investigation for fraud, a former Shas MK sees the writing on the wall for the party.

Rabbi Haim Amsalem, who served as a representative of Shas in the Knesset from 2006-2010, said that the investigations against Interior Minister would mark the end for the Shas party. "It's no secret that Shas has been bleeding in the polls for the past year and a half and is now at the precipice," Amsalem said in an interview with Arutz Sheva. "These investigations and the rise in the level [of seriousness] that took place last week make the situation even worse."

He said that "Today, the traditional community understands that Shas has become a Lithuanian haredi Sephardic party, like the Degel HaTorah party in Sephardic trappings. That is why I am now with the Jewish Home party, which is a Zionist home like the Sephardim have always been - a home which combines [Zionism] with Torah."

Rabbi Amsalem believes that his presence in the Jewish home in the next elections will bring the party another five seats in the Knesset. "A Sephardi who feels in his essence the tradition of the patriarchs, of Zionism, of religious moderation, of Torah and education, can not find [a place for] himself in Shas."

"Therefore, in my opinion, the investigations, that will take many months and bring us to the next elections, are critical, and I, in the framework of the Jewish Home, provide an alternative [for the Sephardic population]. It is up to the Jewish Home to recognize the significance of this time."

"This time I will not only bring the fifty thousand people who supported the 'Am Shalem' party (the party Amsalem formed for the last elections which failed to win a Knesset seat, ed.), but three seats of Sephardim, of religious traditionalists and moderate Haredim, as well as Zionists who understand that they need to learn Torah but also to make a living. They understand that our ancestors and teachers were not against IDF service."

Rabbi Amsalem is convinced that all speculation about Eli Yishai's return to Shas is baseless: "Deri will not give Yishai the party on a silver platter if he prefers that Shas join the Sephardic faction of Agudath Israel," he said, adding that Yishai would provide little electoral value to Shas by himself.