JERUSALEM (JTA) — Aryeh Deri, who resigned as head of the Sephardi haredi Orthodox Shas Party 13 years ago, was reinstated by the party’s spiritual leader, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, according to reports.
Deri would take the party chairmanship from Interior Minister Eli Yishai, who has served in the top party position for more than a decade. Yishai reportedly has been promised the most senior ministerial position should Shas join the next government.
Yishai’s office responded to the report by saying that "nothing has changed, we will do whatever Rabbi Ovadia Yosef instructs us to do," according to the Times of Israel.
Deri, who decided to reenter politics a few weeks ago, had threatened to launch his own party if he were not permitted to retake the Shas chairmanship.
He was indicted in 1993 for accepting bribes and sentenced in 2000 to three years in prison. Under the conviction, Deri was barred from public service in the political arena for seven years.
Yosef said at the time of the conviction that the party’s leadership would be given to Yishai until Deri’s return.