Yehuda Avidan, a close confidant to Shas leader Deputy Prime Minister Eli Yishai told Israel Radio on Sunday morning 28 Tishrei 5773 that Yishai remains the undisputed leader of the party and he will remain the party leader in the upcoming general election.
What prompted the interview with Avidan are recent events surrounding the decision to move general elections to the beginning of 2013, as well as the announcement from former Shas leader Rav Aryeh Deri to return to the political arena, either under the Shas banner or running independently, possibly as the head of a new party.
The speculation surrounding the Deri declaration of about a week ago has resulted in a wave of predictions from the analysts, all aware of two basic points; (1) Yishai will remain in the number one position on the Shas roster and (2) Deri running outside of the Shas framework would deliver a significant blow to the party.
On motzei shabbos the eve of 28 Tishrei 5773, Maran HaGaon HaRav Ovadia Yosef Shlita disappointed the secular media, hoping for a statement regarding Deri’s position in Shas in the upcoming elections. The rav ignored the topic totally.
In a non-Deri related issue the rav did address the practice seen commonly among chassidim, wearing one’s tzizis above one’s shirt. In his drasha, Rav Yosef addressed “Ashkenazi chareidim” who wear their tzizis this way, stating “Their rabbonim should be embarrassed” of the practice the rav stated, adding “They are not acting in accordance with the din, not acting properly…”.
Israel Radio analysts believe efforts in Shas continue to persuade Deri to accept the second slot with the realization this will result in his taking a senior cabinet post. Analysts are divided as Deri’s response since Deri is aware that if he runs on his own he will earn over 10 seats according to all polls. That said, there is the problem of Rav Deri defying his rav, Maran Rav Ovadia, and this lends to many believing Deri will accept a senior slot in Shas under a Yishai leadership reality.
Nitzan Chen, a veteran journalist who has devoted a significant portion of his professional career following the Shas party and its leaders added that he concurs, and the “elderly Rabbi Yosef is not about to oust Yishai at this point, with the latter quite pleased with his performance in the leadership position”.
Chen is also the head of the Israel Government Press Office and has written a biography entitled “Maran Rav Ovadia Yosef”.
The rav’s drasha was shorter than usual. It is reported he was feeling under the weather.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)