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Israeli attorney general: Netanyahu must fire Deri immediately

Shas members call ruling against their party leader a result of "corrupt white people"

Minister of Health and Internal Affairs Aryeh Deri at a meeting of the Health Services Basket Expansion Public Committee, at the Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan, Jan. 18, 2023. (Photo: Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Yesterday’s bombshell Supreme Court ruling, which disqualifies Aryeh Deri from serving as a minister, was an act of discrimination by White elitists against Sephardic Jews, one ultra-Orthodox Jewish activist contended.

“Ten white Ashkenazi judges – the same ones who killed our ancestors,” Avshalom Ohayon, a Shas activist, said during a protest outside Deri’s home on Wednesday night. “We will not remain silent. God willing, the nation will rise up. We're sick of you corrupt white people.”

The Shas party is comprised of and represents ultra-Orthodox Sephardic Jews. Ohayon accused the judges of being “detached” from the electorate and said the Supreme Court has proven itself “anti-democratic."

“We will not stop. We came to govern,” he continued. “What's truer than the polls? We are witnessing a coup by the detached patrons. White Ashkenazim have taken our leader. We will not rest and we will not remain silent.”

Out of 11 judges, 10 ruled on Wednesday that it is “unreasonable in the extreme” for Deri to serve as a minister due to his two prior convictions, the most recent from one year ago for tax evasion. Despite the convictions, he was tapped by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to serve as minister over two major government offices – interior and health – and even to rotate into the position of finance minister in two years.

The new government had already cleared the way for Deri to bypass approval from the Central Elections Committee in order to serve as minister. However, a private group contested his candidacy as a minister, sending the case to the High Court.

Attorney-General Gali Baharav-Miara wrote in a letter to Netanyahu that, by law, he is required to fire Deri.

“According to the ruling that was given today … Knesset Member Deri cannot continue serving as a minister in the Israeli government. Consequently, and according to your authority … you must act according to the ruling and remove him from his roles in the government,” she wrote.

Shas members, including Deri himself, are planning to fight the ruling with “more strength and more force.”

“They close the door on us, so we will enter through the window. They close the window on us, so we will break in through the ceiling,” Deri said.

Deri supporters argued that the court has disregarded the votes of nearly 400,000 people who cast their ballots for the Shas party in the last election, making it the fourth largest party with 11 seats – a significant representation in Netanyahu’s current coalition. The coalition has a majority with 64 seats and if Shas pulls out – as it has threatened to do if Deri is fired – the government could collapse.

In analyzing the ruling, Gadi Hitman, a senior lecturer at Ariel University’s Middle East Department, said that “what matters is that Deri admitted wrongdoing. Admitting to guilt means, ‘I broke the law.’

“And there's meaning to it, especially in a society that desires its elected official to be honest,” he said. “Do 400,000 support a convicted felon to be a minister? If not, why did they choose him? If so, what does this mean for us as a society?”

He also noted that these voters elected a party, not Deri. However, “if Shas is Aryeh Deri, and the party got 400,000 votes just because of Deri, then what does this mean about us as a society?”

Nicole Jansezian is the news editor for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS and senior correspondent for ALL ISRAEL NEWS

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