Unlike normal MKs who receive death threats for their connection to the Temple Mount, Eli Yishai was threatened to be stabbed if he left the Shas party. Yishai received several phone calls threatening his life.
When party head Aryeh Deri was sent to jail, Eli Yishai successfully took over the Shas party. But once Deri was released and the law permitted it, Rav Ovadiah Yosef, the party’s founder and spiritual head, put Deri back in charge.
Once Rav Ovadia died, Deri’s sidelining of Yishai become more open. But there was a fear among Deri’s supporters that Yishai would leave Shas and take half the party with him.
With elections coming up, Yishai had been examining his options to either form a new party, or join someone else’s party instead of running under Deri’s rule.
Yishai is considered the more popular leader among Shas voters.