Israeli Minister Says Senior Likud Officials Sought to Form Government Without Netanyahu

Shas Chairman Arye Dery claims in video aired on Channel 12 that members of PM's party tried to convince him to sink plan to dissolve Knesset and head to new election

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Interior Minister Arye Dery, October 2017.
Olivier Fitoussi

Senior members of the Likud party tried to convince Interior Minister Arye Dery of Shas to foil Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's plan to dissolve the Knesset after April's election, the minister claimed in a video obtained by Channel 12 and aired on Monday. (For the latest election polls – click here)

In the video, Dery says that these members of Likud urged him not to back Netanyahu's move and to thus give a different Likud lawmaker a chance to form a coalition.

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"Senior members of Likud, and other parties, came to me and said, why are you backing him until the end?" Dery, who is the the chairman of the ultra-Orthodox party Shas, says in the video. "They tried to convince me."

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Dery further says: "I said, gentlemen, it's unthinkable, the public wanted Netanyahu, we went to elections and we said Netanyahu – we can't appoint [someone else] because [Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman] Avigdor Lieberman decided to replace Netanyahu – for us to now tell Netanyahu, 'all right, you did your part, go home."

According to the report, Dery made the comments to a group of rabbis closely linked to Shas. Dery explained to them why he believes that voting for Shas bolsters Netanyahu more than voting for Likud, saying that Shas bringing 12 seats is far more significant than Likud gaining another seat or two.