Israeli ultra-Orthodox party reinstates leader

JERUSALEM (AP) — A spokesman for Israel’s ultra-Orthodox Shas party says it has reinstated Arieh Deri as party leader.

Deri last held the post in 1999, the year he was convicted of accepting bribes and went to prison.

Shas’ spokesman Yakov Betzalel said Friday that the party’s spiritual leader, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, made the decision to reinstate Deri on Thursday night.

Deri is the only major ultra-Orthodox leader seen as a moderate on the issue of Palestinians. Shas currently sits in the opposition but has often been a kingmaker in Israeli coalition politics.

Deri transformed Shas from a small, niche party into a major player before he was sent to prison for two years.

After serving his sentence, Deri spent more than a decade away from politics before returning to Shas last year.

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