The battle over the Religious Affairs Ministry continued Saturday night when Shas chairman Aryeh Deri stressed his refusal to accept the appointment of a deputy minister from Jewish Home.
Interviewed on Channel Ten's "Central Headquarters," after Shabbat, Deri addressed the bitter dispute, arguing, "I will never give in [to pressure] to divide the Religious Affairs Ministry and make it into a multi-party ministry."
The harsh statement came after Jewish Home expressed outrage last week at the announcement Shas would receive the ministry, and chairman Naftali Bennett threatened to halt coalition talks.
But Deri also had a message for Bennett, who is set to receive the education portfolio.
"As Education Minister, in charge of education, I am sure he will represent us just as he will represent all the children of Israel. The same thing needs to happen from them and to rely on the Shas MK who will manage the Religious Affairs Ministry as needed."
The Shas chairman also discussed ongoing coalition negotiations with Likud and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu as well as his decision to drop the demand for the interior portfolio.
"The formation of a government is a difficult task. Sometimes you say one thing and other times another. I don't want to get into fights. It's legitimate. I gave up on the Interior Ministry on my own. I could have accepted it if I wanted," Deri stated.
"I was always attentive, but today I specifically want to be responsive to the public.," Deri continued. "I'm going to represent everyone and I understood that that there is about me returning to the interior ministry."
"Although [the criticism] is not justified, because I was acquitted on all three charges based on my previous time in the ministry, I decided I was not going to fight about it so as not to make anyone feel uncomfortable."
Shas representatives are expected to meet with Likud officials at the beginning of this week to finish off negotiations and close any existing gaps.
"I will be Economy Minister, and the Religious Affairs Ministry will also be run by Shas, but as still have gaps. Just as [Kulanu head Moshe] Kahlon stipulated conditions, we also have our conditions. There is no government without us," Deri concluded.