Those who suggested it was only a matter of time before Aryeh Deri began his move to the absolute leadership of Shas, having been assigned to a co-leadership with Interior Minister Eli Yishai, can point to a case of a frozen appointment this week as the first eruption of hostilities between the charismatic ex-con Deri and the Shas leadership that stayed out of jail in his absence.
Kikar HaShabbat reported that Deri tried to prevent or suspend the appointment of a senior figure in Shas, causing tension in the Haredi-Sephardi party.
The belittled official was one Rafi Malachi who serves as chairman of the Shas delegation to the Histadrut national workers union and is a deputy of Histadrut chairman Ofer Eini. Malachi was planning to appoint Yisrael Amitai, who is close to the Shas leadership and to Eli Yishai, to a major position in the union. But at the last minute Malachi received a phone call from Shas treasurer Yehuda Ochana, who had jumped ship from Yishai’s to Deri’s deck, telling him the appointment is fozen for now and that future appointments must be run through Aryeh Deri.
Deri will attempt to calm the sudden tension he caused in a face to face meeting with Amitai on Tuesday. But many in Shas view the move as a signal that Deri intends to be in charge of patronage in the party.