Despite apology, Shas leader continues with ethnically charged attacks on Likud-Beytenu

Aryeh Deri says no senior Cabinet posts for Sephardim in next Netanyahu government

Shas party leader Aryeh Deri, December 2012  (photo credit: Tsafrir Abayov/Flash90)
Shas party leader Aryeh Deri, December 2012 (photo credit: Tsafrir Abayov/Flash90)

Ultra-Orthodox politician Aryeh Deri (Shas) continued with his ethnically charged attacks on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Likud-Beytenu party on Sunday, writing on his Facebook page that no politicians of Sephardi origin are slated to fill a significant post in the upcoming Cabinet.

Accepting as a given that Netanyahu will be the one to win the elections and form the next government, Deri wrote that, “As if it weren’t enough that there are no Sephardim at the helm of any major party — never mind daring to dream of a Sephardi prime minister — when we examine the expected makeup of the next Netanyahu cabinet, we discover that no Sephardim are slated for any of the senior portfolios: Defense, Finance, Foreign Affairs, nor even for the second-tier portfolios of Education or Justice.”

“Even those who refuse to admit that there still exists an undercurrent of discrimination against people of Sephardi heritage must concede that a threatening ethnic gap still exists,” wrote Deri.

On Friday Deri apologized for having referred to the rival Likud-Beytenu Knesset slate as a party for “Russians and whites” a day earlier in response to an attack on Shas from Yisrael Beytenu head Avigdor Liberman.

“Aryeh shouldn’t be a minister. It’s beneath him,” Liberman had told the ultra-orthodox Mishpacha magazine.

Speaking to Army Radio, Deri said he took back his words and called Likud-Beytenu members “my brothers.”

Both parties, arch-rivals on the issues of state and religion, have been stepping up rhetoric against each other as next month’s elections near. Yisrael Beytenu, which represents the largely secular Russian-speaking population, wants to change certain policies currently guided by religious concerns, like marriage and mandatory military service.

Joshua Davidovich contributed to this report.

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