Shas chairperson Aryeh Deri on Wednesday for Gush Katif Day made his first ever visit to the Gush Katif Museum in Jerusalem, commemorating the expulsion of all Jews from Gaza ten years ago.
Three Shas MKs – Avraham Michael, Ya'akov Margi and Meshulam Nahari – accompanied Deri. At the end of the visit, he told Arutz Sheva "this is my first visit here at the museum."
Noting on his period out of politics after being jailed for corruption, Deri said "I wasn't in public activities during the Disengagement but I saw the pictures. The visit here brings you back, it still hurts to see communities and families of Jews uprooted from their homes and community, it really hurts."
Deri recounted Gush Katif, saying "people lived there with happiness, unity, Torah, work and kindness. There was an outstanding community there and nothing remains. To see the pictures brings you back years. I hope that's the last time we'll see something like that."
When asked if Israel had learned the lessons of the Disengagement and what could be done to prevent a recurrence, Deri said "we must never think the lesson is learned, we need to act so it won't happen again."
"A fiasco no less serious than the uprooting is that they didn't know how to deal with those who were uprooted…if you uprooted at least take care of them," he remarked regarding the many former residents who currently struggle with unemployment and live in temporary housing ten years later.
The MK added "to leave Jews in this kind of situation with trauma? I don't understand this awful fiasco, and we need to stand up and be aware, and this museum does holy work in not allowing it to be forgotten."
"Peace, but not at the expense of Jews"
Regarding how his Shas party would respond if a peace agreement expelling Jews from their homes was proposed, Deri said "we have a very clear position that Maran (Rabbi Ovadia Yosef z''tl) dictated to us."
"We will do everything to protect the Jews and the communities and in any agreement made they need to weigh all the considerations, but we need to do everything and make efforts so that the communities and the communal life remains," he continued.
"We strive for peace, but not at the expense of Jews who can live in the land of Israel and realize their rights in the land of Israel," concluded Deri.
Deri was part of the coalition that passed the 1993 Oslo Accords, and which it is claimed could not have passed it without him. In 2013 Deri claimed he "didn't understand" what the Accords were about when he abstained in a crucial vote that enabled the agreement to pass.
However, a recent recording of Rabbi Yosef reveals that it was precisely Deri who was behind Shas's position on Oslo, and not Rabbi Yosef as Deri later claimed.
At the time the rabbi had ruled, in opposition to religious Zionist rabbis, that it is permissible according to Jewish law to give territory from the land of Israel in order to achieve a genuine peace. When the Oslo Accords were followed by a terror onslaught, he retracted this opinion.
Ironically, Shas with its perceived leftward bent under Deri proposed a bill in December 2013 during peace talks requiring 80 MKs to agree to any division of Jerusalem. Deri slammed the "right-wing" parties of Jewish Home and Likud for abandoning Jerusalem by completely abstaining from the vote and leaving the bill to be overturned.