Sorrow over the construction freeze in the West Bank and in particular east Jerusalem caused Rabbi Ovadia Yosef to wish death on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his nation, former minister and Shas leader Aryeh Deri explained Sunday.
"The rabbi is very sensitive," Deri said while interviewed for Kol Hai Radio to mark Ovadia's 90th birthday when questioned about the controversial words of Shas' spiritual leader. "When something hurts him, when something screams out to him, he gets it out, and thus calms the form of his pain – he talks about whoever it may be in a harsh way, to show his pain."
"For instance, the example of Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) now," Deri said. "I know where it comes from. This thing… this terrible pain from the freeze… that in Jerusalem they aren't building a single home, and he sees all the distress of yeshiva students and the public who have no place to live. This distress reaches him and hurts him, and because of this pain he said what he said."
Deri emphasized that the rabbi has no intention of provoking the world. "The rabbi, provoke the goyim? His path, all his life, was to take the path of peace, and try to appease, not provoke."
For a long time Deri has been seeking a way back to center of the political stage after his period of disgrace following conviction for bribery when he served as interior minister. He is looking for a political home and wants to return to the upper echelons of Shas, where Ovadia reigns supreme. If he doesn't manage this, he may well set up a party of his own.
Ronen Medzini also contributed to this report.
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