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Despite previous efforts, ultra-Orthodox party head says no plan to return as minister

Deri also doesn't think coalition should push forward with controversial reforms

Shas party leader Aryeh Deri in an interviewed with Israel's Kikar Shabbat, Sept. 13, 2023 (Photo: Screenshot)

Ultra-Orthodox Shas party leader Aryeh Deri was interviewed by Israel's Kikar Shabbat (Sabbath Square) news on Wednesday night, where he admitted he has no plans to return to the government.

Deri is a veteran politician in Israel’s government and has long been a faithful partner of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He was appointed to Interior Minister and Health Minister by the prime minister as the government was being formed.

Deri’s dismissal in January, after the Supreme Court ruled his appointment to be “unreasonable,” is believed to be part of the impetus for the passing of the Reasonableness Standard Law, which is currently under review by an unprecedented panel composed of all 15 High Court justices.

The Shas head still serves as a Knesset member but not as a minister in the government.

In the interview, Deri also said he did not think the coalition should push forward with the controversial reforms.

“Should we take advantage of our majority of 64, move forward with reform and say, 'We were elected by the public,' and not relate to the minority? I think not.”

Deri said he would support an outline to deal with the current challenges faced by the government.

“If there is an outline that can stop the deterioration, restore security to the army, and enable us to meet the challenges of the cost of living, I would support it,” Deri stated.

In reference to the reported negotiations at Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s residence, Deri said, the coalition was considering “a unilateral move.”

“It's no secret that in the past month, we have seen that there is no outstretched hand from the opposition,” Deri claimed. “We are thinking of an idea to make a unilateral move.”

Regarding a possible return as a cabinet minister, Deri denied such a move.

“I will not use the law to abolish the reasonableness standard of justice to return to the government. I could use it, we have already repealed the law, but no. Absolutely not,” Deri declared.

Going further, the Shas leader clarified that he would not approve a new law aimed at reinstating him to office, referred to as Deri 2.

“We will not approve the Deri Law 2. No, God forbid!” Deri declared. He stated that there are plenty of talented ministers in the Shas party. Moshe Arbel took over Deri’s positions in the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Health.

Speaking of the proposed IDF Draft Law, which has the backing of United Torah Judaism (UTJ), another ultra-Orthodox party, Deri said the law is too problematic.

“Unfortunately, we had an opportunity to reach a good and permanent law, together with the army, the Finance Ministry, and the Justice Ministry, which all agreed to it. Later, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said that because of the protest and refusal to serve of pilots and fighters in other units, we cannot approve the law.”

Deri said that he believes Gallant and, therefore, a new law similar to the one proposed by opposition Knesset Member Benny Gantz would probably be adopted.

“I believe Gallant that he cannot pass the law now,” Deri said. “He can bring a law like the one promoted by MK Benny Gantz at the time. Therefore, what we are examining now and what is on the table is bringing in a different law.”

The Draft Law is one of the bills the coalition has listed for passing in the Winter Knesset session, which begins after the Jewish High Holidays.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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