The Shas leader could prove a moderate voice in the right-wing coalition and Israel’s liaison with the Obama administration.
By Anshel Pfeffer, HAARETZ
The fact that a convicted bribe-taker who has never shown remorse and, to this day, denies his crime, can return to politics, lead a party and assume control of a major ministry is both a dismal illustration of the state of Israeli politics and a badge of shame for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s fourth government. However, as Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein wrote last week, he would prefer not to defend Dery’s appointment in the High Court, but it is perfectly legal. Love or loathe the leader of the Sephardi ultra-Orthodox party and his record, that is now in the past, and the question of how he will act in his second career as a minister is intriguing.
Ostensibly, Dery has been weakened politically by the death of his party’s spiritual leader, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, and the Shas split that pushed the party down to only seven seats – its lowest result in nearly two decades. But he is now the sole leader of the party, with no rivals or rabbis to overshadow him, and he is also in a unique position in the new government.