Thirteen years after being forced to leave Shas,
is returning to public life and is seeking a leadership post at the Sephardic religious party as the campaign for the next Knesset elections
was officially launched
Deri and Shas chairman Eli Yishai
have been battling for the leadership post for the past couple of weeks. Deri was forced to leave Shas 13 years ago after being convicted of bribery charges.
Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef
said at the time that the party's leadership was being entrusted in the hands of Yishai until Deri's return.
Yishai ansd Deri coldly shake hands (Photo: Shuki Lerer)
Yishai on his part, has successfully led Shas for more than a decade and has established a close relationship with Rabbi Yosef. He is now fighting to maintain his position.
Both men have spent the past few weeks trying to persuade Rabbi Yosef's closest advisors to support their bid.
Yishai and Rabbi Ovadia Yosef (Photo: Guy Assayag)
Yishai met Rabbi Yosef on Tuesday morning but the contents of the meeting were not divulged. On Monday, Yishai's wife was called in for a meeting at the rabbi's house. It was later reported that she was told to prepare see her husband lose the chairmanship to Deri.
On Monday, Yishai visited two top rabbis in Bnei Brak, whom Deri had visited earlier.
Meanwhile, the rabbi's advisors are working on a solution to end the rivalry. According to the plan, Deri would head the Shas list but Yishai will retain some of his powers as well the more senior portfolio.
The proposal has yet to be presented to Rabbi Yosef and is pending his approval.
Among Deri's supporters in the party are Rabbi Yosef's son Moshe and Minister Ariel Atias.
The exact details of the plan have yet to be finalized but it is still Deri will return to Shas.
Akiva Novick is a Ynet and Yedioth Ahronoth correspondent