MKs Ariel Atias and Eli Yishai, who have so far been sharing the leadership with Deri, were nominated to head the party's parliamentary group and education network, respectively.
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Following the announcement, Deri thanked Yishai for "steering the ship gracefully," adding that he was nominated "the conductor, but the orchestra will work together to make great music.
Deri's nomination (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
"We are setting out on a long journey, Deri added. "We'll be an aggressive opposition."
Referring to recent reports regarding difference of opinions in the party's leadership, the new chairman said: "Everything you know is irrelevant. I'll do everything I can to promote love and fraternity."
Decision making. Rabbi Yosef (Photo: Yaakov Cohen)
Following Deri's nomination, one of his supporters told Ynet: "Deri will topple this government, which is a government of religious persecutors. His power is in his wisdom. That's his top priority – to topple the government."
'Deri running the party'
According to a source affiliated with Rabbi Yosef, the decision to nominate Deri the sole chairman is attributed to recent failures Shas has been facing in the political arena, as well as to the approaching Chief Rabbinate election and the issue of haredi draft.
The source added that even if all three have a managerial position, and "each can say he's chair – one of the movement, one of the parliamentary group and one of the educational network – it is clear that when it comes to the political arena, Deri is the one who will be running the party.
Deri has said in the past that power struggles within the trilateral Shas leadership were the reason for the party's failure to gain more votes in the Knesset election.
The nomination to party chair completes Deri's return to politics, after he left the party in 1999, when he was sent to prison for corruption charges.
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