Yachad – Ha'am Itanu chairperson former MK Eli Yishai has been largely silent since running on a joint list with Otzma Yehudit and just missing out in the last elections by under 10,000 votes; today he is focusing his energies on gathering donations to cover the large debts he was left with from the election campaign.
Sources close to Yishai told Channel 2 that despite the desire in the Sephardic haredi community to see Yishai and Shas chairman Aryeh Deri make up after their fallout that led Yishai to form his own party, such a rapprochement is not in the cards.
"There's no way, not even a milligram (of a chance), we simply aren't on the same wavelength," Yishai was reported as saying to sources close to him this week. "What is there between me and him (Deri) at all? Many people who voted Shas promised to vote for me in the next elections, some of them regret their vote."
The rivalry between Yishai and Deri was fueled by the fact that Yishai took over as Shas chairperson after Deri was jailed for corruption and took a hiatus from politics, until Deri retained and took over the reins again, sharply limiting and dictating Yishai's position in the party.
Yishai continued, "I'm not angry at anyone. I continue onward with my head raised high despite the fact that they were like a crime organization in dealing with me. I just am sorry that I didn't attack Deri and reveal his true face in the public. I was too gentle."
Explaining the crime organization reference, Shas activists were revealed to have conducted a massive voter fraud campaign against Yachad in the elections, subtly invalidating Yachad voting slips to steal the democratic rights of the party's voters nationwide.
As for revealing Deri's true face, Yishai revealed a number of video tapes showing how Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef put his trust in Yishai and not Deri, but stopped short of revealing a tape he said would cause Shas not to enter the Knesset.
Regarding his decision to break from Shas and form Yachad, Yishai told his supporters that if Rabbi Yosef was still alive he wouldn't have left Shas, "but after I understood that Aryeh turned Shas into an extension of North Korea, in which members of the party are forbidden from talking, and that (Deri) is a dictator, I decided that I won't stay to work with a man like that."
"Shas runs like a mafia"
Otzma Yehudit candidate Baruch Marzel, who was placed fourth on the joint list, said that despite the large debts caused by the elections campaign he did not regret his joint run with Yachad.
"Despite everything, I'm not sorry that we ran with Eli," said the nationalist activist from Hevron. "He's a courageous and honest man, and we simply suffered from a lack of luck. We remain good friends."
Marzel would not promise that in the next elections Otzma Yehudit will run together with Yachad, as speculation over another joint list between the two parties that remain determined to run again in the next round remains unclear.
He revealed, "Eli took the loss hard, he relied on the polls too much, but even today he has great sympathy on the street. Unfortunately Shas is run like a mafia, street gangs stole thousands of voting slips from the ballots, they threatened our activists."
Two Shas activists were even arrested on election day for stealing hundreds of Yachad voting slips, and there were widespread reports of intimidation and fraud.
In response to the article, Shas said in a statement, "we are sorry over the recycled claims of Yishai's people, but we don't judge people at a time of distress. Aryeh Deri is completely busy with roles as Economics Minister and Minister for the Development of the Negev and the Galil, and he works untiringly for the success of the Israeli economy, adding job places around the country and developing periphery regions and the weaker (demographic) layers."
Shas suffered a major setback in elections as well, dropping from 11 seats to a mere seven.