Deri suspension placed on hold

They plan to appeal the delay to the Supreme Court.

Deri, who is running for Knesset, was not present for the debate, but was represented by Deputy Health Minister Shlomo Benizri, a Shas Party colleague.

The Attorney General's Office sent a written opinion, asserting that the committee should decide to suspend Deri until the Supreme Court appeal.

Two weeks ago, Deri openly called at a Shas conference for the party's supporters to vote for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

On Monday, however, Netanyahu received an unexpected slap in the face.

Deri told reporters that he could, under certain conditions, change his recommendation to the Shas Council of Torah Sages that it support Netanyahu and suggest instead that it not take a stand on whom to support for prime minister.

The changed recommendation would depend on a commitment from Labor leader Ehud Barak to maintain the current religious status quo. This means he must main-tain the current approach to non-Orthodox Jews, discard his plans for a mass draft of yeshiva students, and promise to give Shas and other fervently religious Jews preference over Meretz, Shinui, and the Arab parties in forming a government.

On Wednesday, however, the Shas Council of Torah Sages endorsed Netanyahu. Its decision will affect the balloting of hundreds of thousands of Shas followers.

Meanwhile, the fervently religious Agudat Yisrael and Degel HaTorah parties had not yet announced their support for any candidate in the race for prime minister.