MK Eli Yishai, chairman of the Yachad-Ha’am Itanu party, said on Monday that he would ask to serve as Interior Minister in a future coalition, a move that will likely place him at odds yet again with longtime rival Shas chairman Aryeh Deri, who is eyeing the same post.
Yishai made his announcement at a meeting with residents of the Hatikva neighborhood in southern Tel Aviv, Channel 2 News reported.
"I inform you that I will demand the Interior Ministry as a condition for joining the next government which will be established with G-d's help by my friend, Binyamin Netanyahu, and to continue to maintain your own safety and to keep fighting against the phenomenon of infiltrators,” Yishai said.
Residents of southern Tel Aviv have been suffering from endless harassment, fear and violence perpetrated by the many illegal Eritrean and Sudanese infiltrators who enter Israel to find employment and come to live in their working class neighborhood.
Yishai, who served as Interior Minister under Netanyahu between 2009 and 2013, was instrumental in the fight against illegal infiltration and was involved in several moves to quell that phenomenon, including the repatriation of tens of thousands of illegal infiltrators.
"Just a few years ago I was the most hated man among the richer part of the country's population," he said. "This is because I led a relentless fight against illegal work migrants, foreign workers and infiltrators from Africa. I led, along with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, the construction of the fence in the south and thank G-d not even one infiltrator has entered Israel since it was built.”
According to Channel 2, Yishai’s demand of the Interior Ministry is surely to anger Deri, who served as Interior Minister on behalf of Shas at the beginning of the 1990s before being forced to step down when he was put on trial on corruption charges.
While Shas has not yet publicly declared which ministerial portfolios it will demand, it is believed Deri will request the Interior Ministry, as well as the Religious Services Ministry and the Welfare Ministry.