AP News

Popular Israeli politician back to help lead party

JERUSALEM (AP) — A popular ultra-Orthodox Israeli politician previously jailed for accepting bribes has agreed to return to his powerful party in upcoming parliamentary elections.

The Shas Party announced Wednesday that Arieh Deri would share the party's leadership along with the party's current chief Eli Yishai and senior party member Ariel Atias. The decision came after lengthy negotiations with the three politicians, and with the blessing of the party's spiritual leader, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.

Deri transformed Shas from a niche party into an influential factor in Israeli politics, but in 1999 he was convicted of bribery and jailed. He was banned from running for office for seven years after leaving prison.

According to the agreement, Deri will lead the party's educational institutions, and Yishai will lead its parliamentary activities.

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