Aryeh Deri says he will return as Shas leader

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Aryeh Deri said he will return as head of the Sephardic Orthodox Shas party.

Deri’s announcement on Monday came two weeks after he attempted to resign as the Shas leader and then resigned from the Knesset.

The party’s Council of Torah Sages had rejected his initial resignation and ordered him to continue as chairman.

His resignation was sparked by the release of a video showing the late Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef calling Deri a thief. Deri was convicted of graft in 1999 and was absent from politics until 2012.

On Monday, Deri said he would respect the council’s rejection of his resignation and continue leading the party.

“I accept with humility and a bowed head the order of the Council of Torah Sages headed by Council President Maran Rabbi Shalom Cohen,” Deri said.

Cohen reportedly sent Deri a letter on Sunday calling on him to return to his leadership role.

Deri’s rival Eli Yishai, who headed the party for years, broke away from Shas in December to start his own party, Ha’am Itanu.