Dery Cancels Shas Rally, Fearing It Would Turn Into Protest Against Legal System

Meanwhile, Labor MK Miki Rosenthal asks the attorney general what the public implications of a possible criminal investigation against party chairman Isaac Herzog would be.

Dery and Herzog.
Emil Salman

In the shadow of a police investigation into alleged corruption, Shas chairman and Interior Minister Arye Dery canceled on Monday a mass rally of Shas supporters that was set to take place in Jerusalem in three weeks' time. Dery and his advisers feared the rally, for the party's rabbinical and political leadership, would turn into a protest demonstration of his supporters against the attorney general, legal system and police.

Shas holds such rallies twice a year, on the intermediate days of the Passover and Sukkot holidays. Because the official organizer of the rally is not the party but Shas' El Hama'ayan  educational system, even rabbis who hold official government posts – including Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef – can be invited because it is supposedly not a political event. The event was scheduled for an arena with 11,000 seats, with the expectation it would be full.

All this was planned before the disclosure of the corruption investigation against Dery. Now the Shas leadership is worried that any party gathering will turn into a campaign, like the "He's innocent" campaign back when Dery was tried and convicted of corruption charges that he went to prison for in 2000. Sources close to Dery say he is determined to prevent any such protests against the investigation and legal system, and he has kept to his daily routine.

Meanwhile, MK Miki Rosenthal (Zionist Union) asked Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit on Monday if the examination being conducted concerning Labor Party chairman MK Isaac Herzog has taken into consideration the possible implications if a criminal investigation is opened against him.

Rosenthal asked Mendelblit in his letter about the implications from a public standpoint and as to Herzog's ability to carry out his role as opposition leader. Rosenthal said he wanted assurances that the instruction to conduct a preliminary examination before opening a criminal investigation, which was handed down by previous attorney general, Yehuda Weinstein, was being carried out in the cases of Dery and Herzog.

Rosenthal had previously filed a petition to the High Court of Justice concerning a preliminary examination conducted into Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's affairs, after the examination lasted for three years and was then closed by Weinstein, in part because of the long time that had passed. As a result of the petition, Weinstein issued new rules on the matter. Among other things, he determined that an examination is supposed to deal with the public consequences of a decision to open an investigation.