January 22, 2023
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sacked the Minister of the Interior and Health in his government, Aryeh Deri, in compliance with a decision issued by the Supreme Court to do so on Wednesday.
Aryeh Deri, who heads the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, was appointed minister in Israel’s new coalition government, despite being convicted of tax evasion last year.
The Supreme Court in Israel said that Deri’s conviction of tax evasion, in addition to his conviction of receiving bribes in the 1990s, makes his appointment as minister a decision “extremely irrational.”
Netanyahu told Deri during a cabinet meeting on Sunday: “With a heavy heart, deep regret, and a feeling of great difficulty, I find myself compelled to remove you from your position as a cabinet minister.”
Netanyahu considered that the court’s decision “ignores the will of the people,” vowing to seek any legal way out so that Deri continues his “contributions to the service of the State of Israel.”-
Had Netanyahu violated the court’s decision to dismiss Deri, he would have faced contempt of court.--
Deri held several ministerial positions over the decades. Among those positions was what Deri held after seven years of the ban, after he spent a year in prison on charges of receiving bribes.
Deri was sentenced to three years in prison in 2000, but the sentence was reduced to a third of the term due to the good conduct and behavior of the convict.
The Knesset last month passed legislation allowing anyone who has been convicted of crimes but has not served a prison sentence to serve as minister. It seemed clear that the Knesset’s decision came specifically to serve Deri.
The Israeli prime minister himself faces charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust, but he denies all of them.
Earlier in January, the Netanyahu government announced an ambitious agenda to reform the judicial system, sparking mass demonstrations.
Tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Tel Aviv on Saturday to protest the controversial agenda, which includes giving the Knesset more powers over the appointment of judges and ignoring Supreme Court decisions.
In Israel, where there is no constitution, the Supreme Court bears the burden of changing laws it deems unacceptable.