The government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, since winning the elections at the end of last year, is still subject to many pressures and vibrations that indicate that this government is liable to fall and collapse at any moment, due to the alliance structure that Netanyahu relied on, which consists of extremist parties, some of which are It is rejected regionally and internationally, such as the Itman Ben Gvir party, and some of them suffer from legal problems, such as the “Shas” party and its president, Aryeh Deri.
The Israeli Supreme Court announced on January 18, 2023 that it had disqualified Aryeh Deri, head of the Shas party and a key ally of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, from serving in his ministerial position as Minister of Health and Interior, following his criminal conviction last year and the ruling. It is suspended. Netanyahu was forced, at his cabinet meeting on January 22, to exclude Deri from the government, in implementation of the court’s decision.
The court’s decision came to put Netanyahu in a new predicament, and threaten all his previous efforts. This ruling may undermine his coalition agreements, and may lead to the dissolution of his government, if the Shas party decides to withdraw from it. But if Netanyahu decides to circumvent the judicial ruling by returning Deri to his positions in one way or another, or even placing him in new positions, he will put himself in an unprecedented political and perhaps constitutional impasse, and will tighten the screws on him and his government even more, domestically and internationally.
Netanyahu, who soon tried to deflect criticism by allying with Ben Gvir, fell into a shield trap, which raises questions about the role of the judiciary in destabilizing the Netanyahu government, the implications and implications of this ruling, and how Netanyahu can deal with it.
Netanyahu is the one who undermines his government, not the judiciary!
The decision of the Israeli “Supreme Court” that the appointment of Aryeh Deri to a government position was illegal, came with the approval of ten of the eleven judges, and the President of the “Supreme Court”, Esther Hayut, clarified in her decision that Deri was convicted of crimes and violated his duty to serve the public, and violated the law during his service in high public positions.
Deri was convicted in previous times of many legal violations that caused him to be imprisoned once, but the most recent one was in January 2022, when he was convicted of tax fraud charges, and at that time the prosecution demanded a suspended 12-month imprisonment and a fine of 180,000 shekels, or about 56,000 US dollars, and the conviction was issued with a suspended sentence, as part of a deal that Deri concluded with the court, in which he pleaded guilty, admitted his tax violations, and announced that he would bear full responsibility for his actions, in exchange for resigning from the “Knesset” and retiring from political positions in the future.
However, after the elections that took place in November 2022, and Deri’s return once again to the ruling coalition, Deri and Netanyahu circumvented this clause in the “Basic Laws” that are considered the Israeli constitution, and pushed Netanyahu and his partners in the “Knesset” in which they hold the majority, to Amending Article Six of the “Basic Laws” so that the ban on appointment to a ministerial position applies only to those who have been sentenced to an actual prison sentence, and not with a suspended sentence. This amendment allowed Deri to return once again to the Netanyahu government and take over the health and interior portfolios.
Adel Yassin, an expert on Israeli affairs, believes during his interview with Al-Hal Net that the court’s decision to prevent Deri from assuming a ministerial position was based on the deal that Deri concluded with the Public Prosecution a year ago to close the investigation file against him in the case of tax evasion, where he pledged not to return to political life.
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Yassin adds that the judiciary is performing its natural role, and the one causing the crack is the Netanyahu government, which is seeking with all its might to neutralize the role of the judiciary and strip its powers, although the court’s decision will not affect the cohesion of the government at the current stage.
Decision responses and reflections
The Israeli opposition, led by Yair Lapid and Benny Gantz, focused on the file of appointing Aryeh Deri to a government position, and the illegality of the recent amendment approved by the “Knesset” to facilitate this appointment, and even submitted several petitions to the Supreme Court rejecting Deri’s appointment.
After the court’s decision, Lapid asserted that if Deri was not expelled, Israel would fall into an unprecedented constitutional crisis and would no longer be a democracy and would not be a state of law.
As for the President of the “Supreme Court”, Esther Hayut, she confirmed that Netanyahu has no right to ignore the accumulation of serious corruption crimes by Deri, adding that his assignment to two of the most important ministries in the government harms the image and reputation of the legal system in the country, and contradicts the principles of moral behavior and legitimacy.
For its part, the “Shas” party issued a statement strongly attacking that ruling, and saw that the Supreme Court had annulled the votes of 400,000 Shas voters. The statement claimed that the court’s decision was primarily political. While Deri stated that he would not give up his positions.-
The different reactions to the Supreme Court’s decision give many indications, most notably the intention of the extreme right camp to strongly defend Deri’s continuation in the Israeli government in one way or another, and to challenge the decision of the Israeli Supreme Court.--
There is also the support of the Israeli public opinion for the decision of the “Supreme Court”, as an opinion poll conducted by the Israeli “12” channel, this month, showed that 65 percent of the respondents opposed the appointment of Deri, compared to 22 percent who supported it, and 13 percent were unsure, so it might gain This ruling is a clear impetus in light of the escalating wave of demonstrations against the Netanyahu government, which are continuing this month, and in which the number of participants has reached 80,000 Israelis.
In this context, Yassin believes that the implications of the decision are that the judiciary is insisting on continuing its work and preserving its powers and rejecting any attempt by the legislative authority to reduce or remove them.
Also, Benjamin Netanyahu’s insistence on appointing Deri to ministerial positions embodies the extent of his need for the “Haredi” parties and his recognition of his inability to form a government without relying on them and including them in the government, which for him is a lifeline from the court and what may result from the possibility of him going to prison on the background of the criminal cases filed. Against him, according to Yassin.
How will Netanyahu deal with the court’s decision?
After the court’s decision was issued, on January 22, 2023, Netanyahu was forced to respond to the court’s decision and remove Deri from his ministerial positions, while vowing at the same time to find a legal way that would allow Deri to continue serving Israel.
As a result of this ruling that threatens the Netanyahu government, the latter has limited options, the most important of which is accelerating the process of approving the judicial reform laws, which were already proposed by the Minister of Justice, Yariv Levin, and which will give the executive authority headed by Netanyahu the predominance and hegemony in the face of the “Supreme Court”, and even the entire judicial authority. .
Circumventing the judicial ruling, by appointing Moshe Bar Siman Tov, of the “Shas” party, as Minister of Health, and appointing Deri’s son, Yankee, as Minister of the Interior, with Deri assigning him to the position of “alternative prime minister,” not a minister, and this position will be needed To some legal amendments, but it will not be contrary to the decision of the Supreme Court. However, these amendments require that the government submit its resignation, to be sworn in again before the “Knesset”, and this is not a simple procedure.
It is also possible for differences to escalate between Netanyahu and his partners, in the event that he does not succeed in reaching a satisfactory formula for the “Shas” party and its president, Deri, especially since the latter has been sticking since the beginning of the coalition negotiations to take over these ministerial portfolios, without paying attention to the legal impediments, and given the possession of “Shas” 11 seats in the “Knesset”, his withdrawal from the government would mean its collapse, and perhaps Netanyahu’s exit as prime minister.
According to Yassin, the Netanyahu government will not give in and will intensify its attempts to search for loopholes to circumvent the court’s decision by changing the basic laws through the “Knesset” to prevent the court from interfering in the appointment of ministers based on its enjoyment of the majority.
The government will also work to dismiss the current government’s legal advisor to appoint a figure who will help her achieve her ambition to control the judiciary and adapt her to pass laws in line with the personal and partisan interests of Netanyahu and members of his government.
If, apart from the crisis caused by the Supreme Court’s decision regarding Deri’s presence in the government, there are many problems facing the Netanyahu government that may lead to its solution, especially the problems with the judiciary, amid a decline in the popularity of Netanyahu and his government in favor of the opposition on the one hand, and in favor of the authority jurisdiction and not to prejudice its powers.
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