Channel 12 News revealed on Monday recordings of Interior Minister and Shas chairman Aryeh Deri, in which he is heard saying that Likud officials had tried to persuade him to form a government without Netanyahu, to prevent the dispersal of the Knesset.
Deri is seen speaking on the evening before the Knesset was about to be dispersed, thus confirming what Netanyahu had claimed earlier.
Deri had assembled rabbis who were close to Shas and asked them to support his party rather than Likud, and told them he had been the one who saved Netanyahu from the Likud members themselves who were conspiring against the PM. This was exactly the suspicion Netanyahu had raised, but was dismissed by the media who claimed he was being paranoid.
“We were under pressure to go to new elections – why go to elections? Why not let the president appoint someone else?” Deri said in the recording. He added: “Senior Likud officials and other parties came to me and said, ‘Why are you backing him to the end?’ I said, ‘Gentlemen, this is unthinkable, the public wants Netanyahu. We have just run in an election and said our choice was Netanyahu; you can’t nominate someone else because Liberman decided to replace Netanyahu, and so we will now say to Netanyahu, let’s go, you did your part, now go home.'”
Deri continued in the recorded segment: “I have no doubt that Shas with 12 seats is far more important to Netanyahu and Likud than one or two additional Likud mandates.”
In another conversation, minister Deri said he had received a similar appeal in recent days, regarding efforts to form a government with Likud but without Netanyahu.