Interior Ministry Aryeh Deri declared that the Shas Party will seek the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration after the elections. “It is impossible to get around the halls of the ministry if you can’t speak Russian,” Deri said, speaking at a campaign event in Ashdod.
“Unfortunately, hundreds of thousands of immigrants from the former Soviet Union (FSU) who have come under the Law of Return are not Halachically Jewish,” Deri added. “It bothers them that the Interior Ministry checks the DNA of FSU immigrants and makes it difficult for them to immigrate to Israel.”
Deri said that he would formulate the wording of the Law of Return differently as it allows many who are not matrilineally Jewish to immigrate to Israel. “We carry out our duty in the most efficient manner allowed by the law in order to check that even according to the more liberal reading of the law, only those who are eligible can immigrate,” he said.
Earlier, Yisrael Beytenu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman said that his party will seek the Interior Ministry post. “I will gladly relinquish the Defense portfolio for the Interior Ministry as it is very important,” he said.
Deri said that Israel has become an attractive destination for all sorts of immigrants and that the Interior Ministry is the vanguard against this phenomenon “to ensure the Jewish character of the State of Israel… Which is why Yisrael Beytenu does not want Shas in the ministry.”
Deri’s remarks drew criticism from other MK’s. Oded Forer (Yisrael Beytenu) said that he apologizes in the name of those who died on behalf of the Jewish state although some politicians don’t think they are good enough to get married in Israel or be buried in a Jewish cemetery.
In response, Deri said: “I never said there would be DNA tests for FSU immigrants; there are no such tests and there will not be. It was MK Lieberman who accused us of this.” He further asserted that the ministry he heads will continue to keep out people falsely claiming to be Jewish.
Deri further insisted that Shas will be back at the helm of the ministry to “continue safeguarding the Jewish character of the state.” He also said that Shas intends to fight all attempts to change the status of Shabbat, as the national day of rest, as far as workers, often tempted with double pay, are concerned.
Deri also spoke to the many French immigrants who have chosen Ashdod as their new home saying that many have not been welcomed appropriately. He praised the values, institutions, community life and piety of the French Jews and said that they have not received all that they deserve. Oftentimes, they face challenges in the workforce as their French academic degrees are not always recognized. Deri promised to look after their interests.
Lieberman pledged to put an end to the invasive and humiliating DNA tests for immigrants “thought up by Haredi dealers.” He accused the Haredi establishment of racism towards FSU immigrants and also promised to advance civil marriages as an alternative to the Rabbinate.