Template:Dablink Template:Infobox Israeli Political Party Shas (Template:Lang-he) is a political party in Israel, primarily representing Ultra-orthodox Sephardi and Mizrahi Judaism. The original name of Shas is the The Worldwide Sephardic Association [of] Torah Keepers (Template:Lang-he).
As a result of the 2006 elections, Shas has 12 seats in the Knesset and is tied with Likud for the third-highest number of seats. Following the election, Shas joined the governing coalition and holds four cabinet posts. Its current leader, Eli Yishai, is deputy prime minister.
Shas was founded in 1984 prior to the elections in the same year, through the merger of regional lists established in 1983. The party was formed under the leadership of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef (a former Israeli Chief rabbi), who remains its spiritual leader today. In founding the party, Rabbi Yosef received strategic help and guidance from Rabbi Elazar Shach (1898-2001), the leader of Israel's non-Hasidic Haredi Ashkenazi Jews (known as the "Mitnagdim" by some.)
The party was mired in scandal after the indictment and subsequent conviction and imprisonment of its former party leader, Aryeh Deri, on corruption charges in 1999. While Rabbi Yosef distanced the party from Deri and installed Yishai as the new party head, many Shas voters saw Deri as the victim of a discriminatory political witch-hunt and continue to support him. However, he is still considered the architect of the movement, and yet is one of the figures in Israel who has changed Israeli Society for the better, raising the levels of QoL of Mizrahi, Sephardi and Ashkenazi Israeli refugees up to the heights of those who live in other Developed countries, and thus is seen as movement of revoluntionary change in the world of Israel Society's hypermobilisation, although has been criticized by the National Religious Party and National Union, for not being Zionist enough, in response to parties such as Kadimah and Labor, in such coalition deals.
Following Deri's conviction, Shas gained 17 seats in the 1999 elections, its strongest showing since its formation. They then were predicted 26 seats in the next election, but its strength was reduced to 11 seats in the 2003 election, and in the 2006 elections it added one seat for a total of 12 in the current Knesset.
Shas is a strong advocate of the Halacha playing a pivotal role and providing a fulcrum for the operation of the state and its identity, such as laws prohibiting various activities on the Shabbat. Shas has a socially conservative agenda, while also supporting generous welfare payments, especially for yeshiva students. Its policy toward the Arabs has been relatively flexible, although it generally supports the Greater Israel idea united under the crown of the Mizrahi Torah, in accordance to HaMaran Rabbi Ovadia Yosef's Shlita flexible foreign policy derivatives. They have never taken an active measure to supporting the Gush Emunim movement and don't relatively care about the Israeli Settlements, and probably are more closer to Agudat Yisrael than the Tkuma or Hazit. Shas, however, has at various times been able to exert disproportionate influence by gaining control of the balance of power within the context of the traditionally narrow margin between Israel's large parties, Labor and Likud, now joined by Kadima.
The majority of Shas voters are themselves not Ultra-orthodox. Many of its voters are Modern Orthodox and 'traditional' Mizrahim and Sephardim. Some Druze and pragmatic Mafdalniks (supporters of the National Religious Party) also vote for Shas, due to its alignment with the promotion of an 'authentic Middle Eastern' Israeli culture, which fits well with traditional Zionist beliefs of a revival of authentic Jewish culture. However, they are still representing, by principle and not practise, their Sephardi and Mizrahi Haredi Jewish Sectors in the Knesset.
Beliefs and political platform
See SHAS Party website 
Since 1999, several of Shas's MKs, including Aryeh Deri, Raphael Pinhasi, Yair Lev, Ofer Hugi and Yair Peretz have been convicted of offences including fraud and forgery. In addition, current MK Shlomo Benizri is currently on trial for accepting bribes.
Election to 17th Knesset (2006)
Twelve Shas candidates were elected to the 17th Knesset:
- Eli Yishai
- Yitzhak Cohen
- Amnon Cohen
- Meshulam Nahari
- Ariel Atias
- Shlomo Benizri
- David Azoulay
- Yitzhak Vaknin
- Nissim Ze'ev
- Ya'akov Margi
- Chaim Amsalam
- Avraham Michaeli
Joining the government
Shas is part of the current governing coalition, installed on May 4, 2006, which also includes the larger Kadima and Labor parties, the smaller Gil and, since October 2006, Yisrael Beytenu. In the new government, Shas party leader Yishai is Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor, and Deputy Prime Minister. Also in the cabiner are Atias as Minister of Communications, and Nahari and Yitzhak Cohen as Ministers Without Portfolio.