Lots of drama in Shas. Last night videos of late Shas Rabbinic leader R. Ovadia Yosef attacking current leader Aryeh Deri were released to the media. In the videos, R. Yosef calls Mr Deri a thief and a bad person, says he’s too independent and claims Deri tricked Shas into supporting the Oslo peace proces.
This was a huge deal for a party whose support and legitimacy still comes largely from R. Ovadia Yosef. Yesterday, Deri resigned as Shas leader – but a few hours later the Shas Council of Torah Sages (the committee of Rabbis that theoretically runs the party) refused to accept his resignation. Today, raising the stakes, Deri also resigned as a Knesset member, immediately followed by ALL the other Shas MKs too.
This is, of course, the classic Israeli resignation-so-you-can-be-convinced-to-stay. At this point nobody expects Deri to go. The resignations from the current Knesset were symbolic only and won’t affect their running for the next Knesset. According to Haaretz, the Rabbis’ letter begging Deri to stay was written before he’d even resigned!
Perhaps most surprisingly, a poll today showed that all of this has had little impact on Shas. While Eli Yishai took a chunk of Shas’ support with him when he formed his own party two weeks ago, the only poll since the tapes’ release shows essentially no change in Shas’ already-weak position.
In Likud, the leadership and Knesset primaries will happen tomorrow. Most of the drama in Likud has been arguments over rules and courts. Basically, Benjamin Netanyahu has been un-disqualified as expected, and will be running for Likud leader against Danny Danon. Mr Netanyau will win comfortably.
In the primary itself, 70 candidates are running overall with 38 running for the 17 ‘safest’ seats. There will also be a vote to allow Mr Netanyahu to appoint some of his own hand-picked candidates to realistic list positions. This plus other reserved seat rules means that not all the 17 ‘top’ candidates will necessarily be in the first 25 places on the Likud list.
There were also reports of various dirty deals and vote-trading happening in the primary, but I don’t fully understand them. One thing that is worth mentioning is this bizarre and cringe-worthy video by Likud primary candidate Oren Hazan. His father, Yehiel Hazan was a former Likud MK who was convicted of illegally stealing the votes of MKs while they were away from their seats. The video, a Godfather pastiche, has the criminal ex-MK Hazan telling his son to run in the Likud primary for the good of the family. It’s really weird.
There are rumours that Kulanu’s next signing will by Jerusalem Deputy-Mayor Rachel Azaria. Ms Azaria founded the “Jerusalemites” local party and is an advocate for women’s rights, especially in issues around religion. I voted for her for city council and she’d be an interesting addition to Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu list as well as their first woman.
In an attempt to counter Mr Kahlon’s perceived support in Jerusalem, there were some reports that Netanyahu had asked Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat to also serve as the Minister for Jerusalem. This report was denied, and it also is reportedly illegal for a mayor to be a government minister.
Channel 10, one of Israel’s terrestrial TV channels, will close tomorrow night after the Communication Minister – who happens to currently be PM Benjamin Netanyahu – didn’t agree a bailout deal. Mr Netanyahu and his wife Sarah have reportedly had his sights on Channel 10 since the channel ran critical reports about the Netanyahus’ foreign travel.
Israel only has five free-to-air Hebrew channels at the moment, and Channel 10’s news in particular is one of the best (Channel 2 is also good). The channel has been on strike, showing a picture of Mr Netanyahu and blaming him for the closure. Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni called on Mr Netanyahu to save the channel, and even President Ruvi Rivlin publicly backed a bailout. Supporters of Mr Netanyahu, though, pointed out that many of Channel 10’s supporters had no problem with the law to limit the free distribution of pro-Netanyahu newspaper Yisrael Hayom.