Deri Hints at Return to Shas

January 5, 2015  

Just a week after handed in his resignation from the Knesset, Aryeh Deri is hinting at a return to the leadership of the Shas party.

In an interview with journalist Ilana Dayan on Channel 2’s Uvda program, Deri did not say outright that he would return to Shas, but did say that “a person who refuses to change his mind is not a person, he’s a donkey.”

“I do not know yet if I will return, that’s the truth,” Deri said in excerpts of the interview published Sunday ahead of Monday evening’s broadcast. “A person who doesn’t change his mind or is not willing to hear other opinions is not a person, he is a donkey.”

Deri resigned from Shas and from the Knesset after recordings revealed that Shas late spiritual leader, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef of blessed memory, strongly condemned and opposed him.

In the recordings, Rabbi Yosef was seen in private meetings condemning Deri for his corruption that had him jailed in 1999 and explaining he didn’t want to reappoint him as head of Shas in place of Eli Yishai – and even going as far as to refer to him as “evil.”

Another recording revealed that Deri and not Rabbi Yosef was responsible for Shas’s shift to the left and support for the 1993 Oslo Accords.

Deri told Dayan in the interview that he knew about the existence of the recordings several weeks before they were made public. According to Deri, former Shas chairman Eli Yishai, who recently left the party over tensions with Deri and formed his Yachad-Ha’am Itanu party, was the one who revealed the existence of the recordings to rabbis who are close to Deri.

Those rabbis, claimed Deri in the interview, told Deri about the recordings but said that Yishai promised not to make them public. Yishai has denied that he published the leaked recordings.

There were reports late last week that Deri is planning to announce his return as chairperson of Shas, after having gained strong words of backing from a large number of Shas rabbis and MKs who threatened to quit with him.

Since Deri stepped down, there has been a protest tent established in front of his home in the Har Nof neighborhood of Jerusalem, with hundreds of hareidi yeshiva students who are members of Shas calling on Deri to return.

Deri on Thursday was in the north of the country with his wife, but delivered a message via telephone to his supporters in the protest tent.

“Your cry reaches the north. I love you all and promise you: I didn’t forget what Maran (Rabbi Yosef) said before he passed away in the hospital: ‘Aryeh, I ask that you continue to take care of the children of the poor and the needy,” said Deri.

“We will all continue together, I’m with you,” said Deri, asking the yeshiva students to return to their studies and not to stay outside his home in the cold. “I ask that tonight you close the tent and return to the yeshivas to study Torah.”

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