Shas

Leader: Aryeh Deri (political), Rabbi Shalom Cohen (spiritual)
Current Seats: 8
Recommended candidate for prime minister in the Twenty-First Knesset: Benjamin Netanyahu
Supports/Opposes Two-State Solution: Unclear

Shas is a right-wing ultra-Orthodox Mizrahi political party, currently chaired by Aryeh Deri and directed by a rabbinical body, the Council of Torah Sages.

An Orthodox Mizrahi party, Shas has both a political leadership and a clerical authority, the Council of Torah Sages. The party's spiritual leader is Rabbi Shalom Cohen.

Shas has previously joined coalitions led by both Likud and Labor, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not one of the party’s main priorities. However, longtime Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef did endorse territorial concessions for the sake of peace during the Oslo process. Moreover, several Shas MKs have voiced support for a two-state solution as envisioned by the Geneva Initiative. Nevertheless, the party lacks an official program related to the question of two states, and leans right on other social issues.

Shas leader MK Aryeh Deri could face legal troubles, and the Council of Torah Sages may be less willing to help him this time.

Shas decried Avigdor Liberman’s confrontation with the ultra-Orthodox parties during coalition negotiations following the April elections. However, Shas maintains that its primary enemy remains Yair Lapid of Kachol Lavan, owing to Lapid’s past campaigning against ultra-Orthodox hegemony, and that Liberman’s efforts should be ignored.

In recent years, Shas has lately been plagued by internal fractures and legal troubles. Former Shas head Eli Yishai launched a new far-right party, Yachad, in 2015. Meanwhile, the Israel Police have recommended indictments against party leader Aryeh Deri on corruption charges (Deri was previously jailed for corruption). While Deri was previously restored to the Shas leadership by the party’s rabbinical overseers, the Council of Torah Sages have been more tepid in their support for the embattled chairman this time around. Investigations into Deri over graft allegations remain open, with police questioning the Shas leader as recently as June 2019.