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August 20, 1993 - Image 111

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1993-08-20

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Leased
lightning.

Shas May Leave
Labor Coalition

Jerusalem (JTA) — Concern
over the stability of Israel's
government is mounting
amid increasing signs that
the Shas party may bolt the
Labor-led coalition over the
handling of the case against
Interior Minister Aryeh
Deri.
Mr. Deri, who heads the
fervently Orthodox party
has been accused by At-
torney General Yosef Harish
of committing acts of
bribery, fraud and breach of
the public trust.
But formal charges cannot
be brought against him in
court unless the Knesset
waves his parliamentary
immunity, a move it is
unlikely to make before it
returns from summer recess
in October.
Mr. Harish and Justice
Minister David Libai are
urging Mr. Deri to step down
from his Cabinet post in the
meantime, but Prime Min-
ister Yitzhak Rabin has in-
dicated he will not force such
a move until an indictment
against Deri is presented in
court.
The High Court of Justice
is expected to rule next week
on whether Deri should be
required to step down. A rul-
ing against Mr. Deri may
prompt the six-member Shas
Knesset faction to leave the
government, as many within
the party's leadership and
constituency have demand-
ed.
New indications that a se-
rious crisis is looming over
the coalition surfaced over
the weekend as Shas party
figures unleashed sharp
verbal attacks against Mr.
Harish and Mr. Libai. An-
other indication of the seri-
ousness of the crisis was
seen in Mr. Deli's absence
from the weekly Cabinet
session.
His aides briefly explained
that Mr. Deri had extended a
weekend leave. Mr. Deri
spent the weekend at a re-
ligious seminar organized by
his wife, Yaffa, at the Wash-
ington Heights College near
Ashdod.
So far, the Shas party's
spiritual mentor, Rabbi
Ovadia Yosef, has stood as a
buffer against the pressure
to leave the government,
while encouraging Mr. Deri
to remain in office.
If Shas quits, the coalition
would be left with a govern-
ing plurality of 56 Knesset
members from the Labor

...

Ovadia Yosef:
Shas party's mentor.

Party and Meretz bloc.
Unless it can persuade addi-
tional parties to join the
government, it will be forced
to rely on the tacit support of
the five Knesset members
belonging to the two left-
wing Arab parties: Hadash
and the Arab Democratic
Party.
Labor recently has been
reaching out to the United
Torah Judaism bloc, which
has four Knesset members,
but these talks have born no
fruit so far because of the
fervently Orthodox party's
continued objection to the
formation of any ties with
the secularist Meretz bloc.
Shas officials have grown
especially militant following
an interview the attorney
general gave Israel Televi-
sion over the weekend in
which he claimed that Deri
had no "appropriate re-
sponse to the charges
against him."
Knesset member Shlomo
Benizri of Shas demanded
that the government fire
Harish immediately because
he "has sentenced Deri even
before the charge sheet was
presented to court."
Shas intended to go ahead
with its plan to file a
counter- petition to the High
Court of Justice, demanding
that the court intervene
against the attorney general
for his having reversed his
original position in the af-
fair.
Mr. Harish, prior to sign-
ing the coalition agreement
about a year ago, endorsed
Mr. Deli's pledge to suspend
himself from office only after
a charge sheet is presented

in court. ❑

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