Former Shas leader and interior minister Eli Yishai gave a first media interview Monday, to Channel 2's Yair Cherki, after his party's loss in the last elections.
According to the report accompanying the interview, the Yachad party owes NIS 12 million, and Yishai gave personal security for NIS 2-3 million out of these debts.
Yishai said that his personal debt is shared with ex-MK Yoni Chetboun.
"I spend most of my day with arranging the debts,” he said. “I intend to pay and reach arrangements with the creditors and activists. I'm here, I have not run away.”
In hindsight, Yishai appears to think he did not get down and dirty enough in the campaign. “There is no doubt that I was too gentle,” he explained. “I will not be immoral; I have a set of values and I will remain moral, but I was too gentle, and next time it won't be like that.”
"There were many things said that besmirched me, lies and libels, [and] I preferred not to go into that playing field, and the public was confused by that,” he added.
Yishai's party, Yachad / Ha'am Itanu, which ran on a joint list with the Otzma Yehudit faction's Baruch Marzel, failed to make it past the threshold for entering the Knesset in the March election. It received about 120,000 votes but fell short of the required minimum number by about 10,000. It was fiercely opposed by Mizrahi-haredi Shas, headed by Yishai's arch-rival, Aryeh Deri, who headed Shas before Yishai, and the took over the party again in a contentious comeback in 2012.
Yishai's strongest PR weapon against Deri was a recording in which Shas founder and mentor Rabbi Ovadia could be seen describing Deri in negative terms. He denied being the person who leaked the tape to the press, but hinted broadly that if additional tapes that he has seen are brought to light, Deri's chances of winning would be finished. However, no additional evidence was brought.