Speaking to the Kol Barama radio station on Sunday, Yishai called on his predecessor to return to the religious party, adding that Deri "would not do anything contrary to the opinion of (Rabbi Yosef)."
Deri was forced to resign from the cabinet in 1993 over corruption charges. He was sentenced in 1999 to three years in prison. Yishai replaced him as Shas chairman.
Deri (L) with Rabbi Yosef (Photo: Boaz Ben-Ari, Shabbat Square)
In June 2011 Deri announced that he was planning to form a new political movement ahead of the next elections. "In Israel one cannot contribute without political clout," he said at the time. "I want to use my clout to foster unity."
Shas officials posited that Yishai's comments were meant to thwart any political maneuvering by Deri without the authorization of Rabbi Yosef.
Yishai, who did not mention Deri by name, said during the interview that his predecessor should return to Shas. "This is his home. Shas is united and stronger than ever," the party chairman said. "I have no doubt that eventually he (Deri) will do what (Rabbi Yosef) wants. (The rabbi's) position is clear."
Asked whether the rabbi may support two separate parties – Shas and another party headed by Deri that will seek the support of the traditional and secular public – Yishai said "there is only one Shas party. I believe that in the end everyone will rally around (Rabbi Yosef's) leadership."
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