Shas and the Geneva Initiative

Shas and the Geneva Initiative

 By Nadav Shragai, Israel Hayom


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Under the leadership of Aryeh Deri, Shas' position on Jerusalem was a riddle. According to recorded statements by the late Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, which were made public this week, it was Deri who led Shas to support the Oslo agreements, effectively paving the way for Jerusalem to serve as a negotiable matter.

Last year, Deri lent his support to Litzman's proposed legislation limiting the government's ability to negotiate over Jerusalem. The Shas chief expressed opposition to handing over parts of the capital to the Palestinian Authority, citing the security risks inherent in such a move. But when asked by a reporter from the religious Zionist Makor Rishon newspaper three years ago whether he would pledge to support keeping the city united under Israeli control, he said: "I don't have a solution to everything. We'll cross that bridge when we get to it."

Deri stated his view that the Jerusalem question would be determined first and foremost by security factors. The Deri-led faction within Shas is considered more dovish from a diplomatic standpoint but hawkish on security. The former Shas leader was, up until recently, reliant upon a group of associates that includes a few who have expressed support for partitioning Jerusalem.

Adina Bar-Shalom is a member of the non-government Geneva Initiative, an independent accord crafted by Peace Now backers which supports dividing Jerusalem and establishing a Palestinian state along the 1967 lines, with east Jerusalem as its capital. Yitzhak Suderi, one of Deri's closest confidantes who was once Shas' chief spokesman and who arranged for Bar-Shalom's alliance with Deri, is also a supporter of the Geneva Initiative. It is worth noting that Suderi also worked as an aide for Yishai and Netanyahu. Another Shas official, MK Yitzhak Vaaknin, also backs the Geneva Initiative "as the basis for an eventual peace treaty."