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Shas Party spirals downward with Deri at helm

Almost one year into the term of Aryeh Deri, it looks as if there is no way to stop the party’s gradual disintegration.
Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men lift a boy during the funeral of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the spiritual leader of the ultra-religious Shas political party, in Jerusalem October 7, 2013. More than half a million mourners turned out on Monday for the funeral of Yosef, an Iraqi-born sage who transformed an Israeli underclass of Sephardic Jews of Middle East heritage into a powerful political force. REUTERS/ Nir Elias (JERUSALEM - Tags: POLITICS RELIGION) - RTX1436M
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Shas Party Chairman Aryeh Deri sent personal text messages to all of his faction’s Knesset members at the end of August, forbidding them to be interviewed or to make any statements on major issues on the party's behalf. Obviously, Deri did not skip his predecessor, current Knesset member and former Minister Eli Yishai. He made it clear to Yishai that any statements not coordinated with him first cause serious damage to the party as a whole.

These text messages came in the wake of Yishai’s comments to the media that he opposed the Shas Party joining the Netanyahu government. Yishai and Deri have been bitter rivals for the past few years. These comments were made while Deri was going out of his way to commend Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his handling of Operation Protective Edge. His praises gave the impression that he was looking to join the government.

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