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Deri not down or out: Govt considers changing law to bring back convicted minister

Shas leader MK Aryeh Deri seen during a Shas party meeting, at the Knesset in Jerusalem, Jan. 23, 2023. (Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Last week’s political drama involved Knesset Member and Shas party leader Aryeh Deri being fired from his position as head of both the health and interior departments after a bombshell Supreme Court ruling that he was unfit to serve as a minister. 

But chances are he won’t be out of those positions for too long. 

The coalition is planning to propose a law that would bar judicial review of ministerial appointments, according to the Jerusalem Post. This would allow Deri to return to the government as a minister despite the Supreme Court’s ruling that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's appointment of Deri was “unreasonable in the extreme.”

While Israel does not have a constitution, the proposed law would be added to the nation’s Basic Law.

“There will not be judicial review by any level of court about any matter connected to, or resulting from, the appointing a minister and removing him from his position, save for the appointment meeting the conditions of eligibility set out in section 6a and 6c alone,” the legislation says. 

The legislation leans on “democracy” and elections as rationale behind the appointment and removal of ministers. Judges are not elected, hence making their rulings contrary to voters’ wishes and “sometimes even bending the voters’ will to that of the government.”

Deri leads the ultra-Orthodox Shas party which represents ultra-Orthodox Sephardic Jews. In the last election, the party received nearly 400,000 votes and is now an integral part of the governing coalition. 

However, the long-time politician has been convicted twice on tax-related charges – once in 2002 and again in 2022.

Out of 11 judges, 10 ruled last week that it is “unreasonable in the extreme” for Deri to serve as a minister due to these convictions. 

However, Netanyahu had appointed him as minister over two major government offices – the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry Health – and even to rotate into the position of finance minister in two years. A citizen group appealed to the Supreme Court to reverse Deri’s appointment.

While both Deri and Netanyahu agreed to obey the court order “very shortly” after ruling, Deri also said in subsequent interviews that he would be back.

“I’ll be back as a minister when the Knesset passes legislation [allowing for it]. Whether that’s in two weeks, one month, or two months,” he told Channel 12 news.

Nicole Jansezian was the news editor and senior correspondent for ALL ISRAEL NEWS.

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