The Shas party’s returning prodigy Aryeh Deri said he is the one leading the faction despite the fact that it officially has a joint leadership and that he is only second on its candidate list for the January 22 elections.
In an interview with Channel 1, Deri spoke of how he sees his position within what is expected to remain the largest ultra-Orthodox faction after the coming elections.
“I have all the authority that I need to run Shas,” Deri said. “I have passed the age where you worry about titles. I am managing Shas. I may have joint leadership but in every board you need a director.”
The party announced in October a two-way sharing of power between its current party chairman Interior Minister Eli Yishai and Deri.
“Naturally I have people I am consulting with,” Deri said. “But I am running Shas.”
Deri served as political head of the party for several years before going to prison in 2000 for taking bribes.
Last week the faction announced its leadership formula for the general elections from the home of its spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. The candidate list put Yishai at the top, followed by Deri, and then Housing Minister Ariel Atias.
Deri’s return to the party for these elections raised the specter of a power struggle between him and Yishai. Last week Yishai’s nephew was beaten unconscious, allegedly by supporters of Deri, but recovered soon after.
Nonetheless, the former party chairman, who only recently returned to politics after an absence of over a decade, said that there is full cooperation within the party. ”There are no camps,” he said.